If you think you do not need a Last Will and Testament because you are “too young” or “too poor,” you may want to rethink that idea. Even if you are just beginning your career and have not yet accumulated a lot of wealth, you undoubtedly own at least a few things you want specific people to inherit from you when you die. Specifying this in your will is the only way you can make sure that your wishes will become actuality.
What you may not realize is that if you die without having made a will, you die intestate and Massachusetts intestacy laws determines who gets what portion of your estate.
The law provides for a number of scenarios, including the following, if your spouse survives you when you die:
- No surviving children or parents: Spouse inherits your entire estate.
- One or more surviving children born or adopted into your marriage: Spouse inherits your entire estate.
- One or more surviving children of you or your spouse born or adopted into another relationship: Spouse inherits the first $100,000 of your estate plus half of its balance; your surviving children inherit the other half.
- Surviving parents: Spouse inherits the first $200,000 of your estate plus 75% of its balance; parents inherit the other 25%.
No surviving spouse
The law likewise provides for a number of scenarios, including the following, if you have no surviving spouse or children:
- Surviving parents: Your father inherits half of your estate and your mother inherits the other half.
- No surviving parents: Your siblings inherit equal shares of your estate.
- No surviving siblings: Your nearest lineal relatives inherit equal shares of your estate.
Only by making a will can you overcome any of the above.