A will allows you to designate heirs to your estate in the event of your untimely death. Without a will, it can be a bit more complicated and may not be in line with your personal wishes. Below is an overview of what happens when you have no will in Massachusetts.

Heirs to Your Estate | What Happens When You Have No Will

Massachusetts state law determines who are legal heirs to your estate when you have no will. Several factors come into play such as whether you are married, have children, and/or if your parents are still living. Here are a few common scenarios:

  • Married with No Children – If your parents are still living, they are equal heirs with your spouse. Only in the case where you have no living parents would your spouse be the sole heir.
  • Married with Children –  Your spouse will be the sole heir to your estate.
  • Married with Children from Previous Marriage – Your spouse and your children from the previous marriage will be equal heirs.
  • Married with Children from Current and Previous Marriage – Your spouse and children with that spouse are equal heirs. Your children from previous relationships do not have any rights to your estate in this case.

Beneficiary Rights & Percentages

In the state of Massachusetts, the percentage of rights to an estate depend on how people are related. Those equally related receive equal benefits. For example, if you have 4 children, each receives a 25% share of your estate. If some of your children are deceased, then their rights would pass down to your grandchildren. However, all grandchildren beneficiaries must receive equal percentages as well, compared to one another.

For example, if you have 4 children: Sam, Bill, Jen, and Steve, all should receive a 25% share. Let’s say Bill and Jen are deceased. Bill had 1 child and Jen had 2. Bill and Jen’s combined 50% share will be equally split among the 3 grandchildren. Bill’s child does not receive Bill’s full 25% share since all grandchildren are equally related and must therefore receive an equal share.

Why Wills Are Important in Massachusetts

If the above scenarios do not comply with what your personal wishes would be, then it is critical that you prepare a will. Within your will, you may designate specific heirs and percentages. Heirs do not have to be related to you and do not need to have equal rights to other heirs. It is completely within your power to use whatever reason or logic that you wish for designating your beneficiaries.