What is the intestacy statute? It is a statute here in Massachusetts which sets up the rules of how your estate would be passed down, if you died an executed will. Many people assume “everything will go to my wife” or “I have nothing, so it doesn’t matter.” However, as we all know, assumptions are rarely correct. Below is a brief outline of how the Massachusetts intestacy statute works so you can have a better understanding of how it applies to your particular situation. And again, this is not legal advice. If you have any questions, please contact an estate planning attorney!
To start, ask yourself whether the deceased person (decedent) died was survived by children or parents. If no, the surviving spouse takes the entire estate. If there are surviving children or parents, then you must ask whether the decadent died with children who were all children of the marriage of the surviving spouse AND both the decedent and the surviving spouse have no children from prior relationships. If yes, the surviving spouse takes the entire estate.
If not, then you must ask whether the decedent died leaving no children, but did leave surviving parents? If yes, then surviving spouse takes first $200,000 plus 3/4 of the balance and the remaining share to the parent(s). If there are no surviving parents, then you must ask whether the decedent died with children of the marriage, but either decedent or surviving spouse have children from other relationship?
If yes, then the surviving spouse takes the first $100,000 plus 1/2 the balance, and the remaining balance goes to the children of the decedent. If the answer is no, then you must ask whether the decedent died without a spouse? If yes, then the estate passes in the following order:
Lastly, if the decedent died with no children or relatives, his or her estate would go to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
As you can see, the statute can get quite complex, especially with today’s modern family. Estate planning attorneys help you navigate these complexities and make sure that during the emotional time of a death in the family, you aren’t burdened with navigating these statutes. Communicating with your attorney can help them ensure that your estate will benefit those who you care about the most.
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