Drafting a will takes some time, but it makes the bequeathal process much simpler. Because of the lack of clarity regarding the deceased’s wishes, it can be far more complicated for their loved ones to inherit their belongings. Here’s what happens to someone’s assets and property if they pass away without a will.

Lack of Control Over Bequeathal

An empty court room

Without a living will, trust, or another form of estate planning, the person who has died will be declared “intestate,” and their family has no say in how their belongings are divided and distributed. The state of Massachusetts will handle this process, and it has specific patterns for deciding who gets what:

  • For people who were married with children, the spouse receives the majority of the estate, and a portion is earmarked for the children.
  • For people who had children but no spouse, the children will inherit the estate.
  • For unmarried persons without children, the property goes first to any living parents. Next in line are siblings, nephews and nieces, aunts and uncles, and cousins.
  • It’s often difficult for domestic partners who are not a spouse to receive any assets.

Increased Estate Taxes

Because the state will be responsible for the deceased’s property, a judge will choose an executor to attend to their assets, meaning their loved ones are kept out of the process. Creating a will often helps people minimize the amount of estate taxes their assets incur. For those without a will, the state will ensure that all applicable estate taxes and outstanding debts are paid before distributing assets to family members.

Potential Exceptions

Certain accounts, like bank accounts and life insurance policies, do have protections in place for those without a will. These can allow people to choose who will receive the account’s contents upon their death. Most assets, however, are considered probate and require a will to have designated recipients. People who would like to consult an experienced attorney for drafting a will can look to The Law Office of Arthur P. Skarmeas, LLC. Arthur Skarmeas and his legal staff have over 30 years of experience helping clients across Massachusetts and New Hampshire make informed decisions that protect their assets. To schedule a consultation with our attorneys, give us a call at (978) 887-0093 today.

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