Intestate Succession in Massachusetts

Losing a loved one is often a tragic, heartbreaking event for surviving family members. In addition to the emotional pain that loss of life brings, there are also a number of logistical questions that a death yields, too. For example, surviving family members will need to make funeral and burial arrangements, as well as begin the process of settling the deceased person’s estate. This can be confusing and burdensome, especially if there is no Last Will and Testament in place. When no Last Will and Testament exists, an estate is subject to the rules of intestate succession. Here’s what you need to know about intestate succession in Massachusetts–

What Is Intestate Succession?

When someone dies “intestate,” it means that they die before having created a Last Will and Testament. As such, their assets are subject to the rule of intestate succession–the rules that regulate how assets that normally would pass through a Last Will and Testament are to be distributed to heirs.

What Assets Are Subject to Intestacy Rules?

Only those assets that would normally be included in a Last Will and Testament are subject to the rules of intestate succession. Assets that have a named beneficiary, such as  payable-on-death account or a life insurance policy, will not be subject to intestacy rules.  Common assets that are subject to this process when a person dies without a Last Will and Testament include a house (if it’s owned alone in your name), personal assets (like jewelry, art and your car), money in a bank account, and a business.

Who Gets What according to the Intestacy Rules in Massachusetts?

As found in Massachusetts General Laws, Article II, how an estate is to be divided amongst beneficiaries per the state’s intestacy laws is as follows–

● A decedent’s surviving spouse will inherit everything if there are no descendants or surviving parents of the decedent. If the decedent does have a surviving parent, then the spouse will receive the first $200,000 of the estate plus ¾ of the remaining balance–the parent will get the rest. If the decedent has a surviving child, then the spouse will receive the first $100,000 of the estate plus ½ of the remaining balance.

● If the decedent dies with children but no spouse, then the children will inherit everything. If the decedent dies with no children and no spouse but with surviving parents, then the parents will inherit everything.

● Finally, if a decedent dies with no children, spouse, or parents but does have surviving siblings, then the siblings will inherit everything.

Learn More About Intestate Succession in Massachusetts

If you don’t agree with the breakdowns above and don’t want to be told how your assets should be distributed, you can avoid the intestate succession process by creating a Last Last Will and Testament in Massachusetts. To learn more about creating a Last Will and Testament and other estate planning documents, or to seek legal representation if you are the administrator on a decedent’s estate, please reach out to a skilled estate planning attorney , Patricia Bloom-McDonald, Attorney at Law. You can schedule a consultation by calling the law firm directly or sending Attorney Bloom-McDonald a message using the form on our website.