Like other states, Massachusetts has laws which determine how an estate gets distributed when someone dies without a will. These laws also apply when a person has a will, but the will is deemed invalid under the laws of this state.
In some cases, a will may be valid but not dispose of all of a person’s probate estate. In such cases, the so-called intestacy laws of Massachusetts will apply to that property which the will does not dispose of.
The idea behind these laws is to make sure that an estate gets distributed in an orderly fashion even when a person does not have a will. These laws provide for a deceased person’s closest surviving relatives, as the law assumes that these would be the first people to receive an inheritance under a will.
A person’s spouse has a privileged position in Massachusetts’s intestacy laws. A spouse can receive a person’s entire estate if the person has no surviving parents and no children. The spouse will also receive the entire estate if all of the deceased’s children are also children of the spouse.
If the person has surviving parents or children from a prior relationship, then the spouse will still receive a substantial portion of the deceased’s estate and may well take the entire estate if there are not a lot of assets.
When a person dies without a surviving spouse, the law provides that the estate will pass to a person’s descendants, such as his or her children or grandchildren, with each descendant getting an equal share. For those who have no spouse or direct descendants, the law sets out how the estate will pass to the deceased person’s relatives.