A will is an important legal document in Massachusetts. It allows you to designate beneficiaries for your estate and outline your other wishes. It can also minimize disputes among your potential heirs. A large percentage of people actually die without a will. Understanding how that situation is handled in Massachusetts makes it clear why you should prepare a will in the first place.

Determining Heirs to Your Estate

Surviving members of your family are among the potential heirs to your estate. Who exactly is considered an heir depends on your marital status, children, and other factors. Here are a few common scenarios.

  • Surviving Spouse and Children
    If you are married and have children, your spouse will be the sole heir to your estate.
  • Surviving Parents and Spouse
    If you are married, have no children, and have surviving parents, your spouse and parents are all equal heirs. If you have no living parents, then your spouse becomes the sole heir.
  • Spouse and Children From Previous Relationships
    If you have no children with your current spouse but do have children from previous relationships, then your current spouse and those children become heirs.
  • Spouse and Children From Both Current and Previous Marriages
    If you have a spouse plus children from both your current and previous relationships, then your current spouse and children with that spouse are  your heirs. Children from previous relationships are excluded.

Percentage of Beneficiary

Massachusetts law divides beneficiary rights based on how individuals are related. Those who are equally related therefore receive equal benefit. For instance, if you have  two children (Jack and Jill) , each will receive equal share in your estate, or 50%. If Jack is deceased, that 50% stake gets passed down to his children. If he has two children, each receives an equal 25% share.

Let’s now assume that both Jack and Jill are deceased. Jack has 2 children and Jill has 1. Jill’s child does not receive a higher percentage than Jack’s two children. Since all 3 are grandchildren, they must receive equal share, or 33.33%.

Why You Should Prepare a Will in Massachusetts

If the way that the state of Massachusetts determines your heirs and their beneficiary percentages does not quite meet your preferences, then your option is to prepare a will. In your will, you can determine exactly who your heirs will be, regardless of how they may be related to you. You may also assign specific percentages or particular assets to those heirs. Have a say in how your estate is handled is the main and most important reason why you should prepare a will. For additional MA estate planning tips, follow us on FaceBook.