The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

Without a Will, the Laws of Intestacy Take Over

POSTED ON: February 5, 2020

What happens if you die without having any estate planning in place? That’s called dying intestate and your property will go through probate and be distributed according to the Massachusetts intestacy law.

Why You Don’t Want Massachusetts Intestacy Law to Distribute Your Estate.

It means you won’t have any control over who gets what. So, after all your hard work during your lifetime to gain assets, you could be leaving the people you love the most with nothing.

Your heirs could be hit with inheritance taxes. Proper estate planning can help you minimize estate taxes, but without that planning it’s possible that your loved ones’ inheritance will be deeply impacted by those taxes—leaving them less from your estate.

Money up for grabs can cause family battles. Without doing either a will or a trust detailing specifically who you want to get what assets, family members could choose to fight each other to get what they believe is rightfully theirs. That could cause rifts in the family that last for years.

If you are survived by children then they will receive some portion of your estate when they turn eighteen. Having children receive large sums of money at such a young age is almost always a bad idea. They’re just not mature enough to handle that money responsibly. Proper estate planning can help give their inheritance structure and delay when they will receive the whole distribution, while intestacy can’t.

What Happens to Your Assets According to the Massachusetts Law of Intestacy?

Generally, in intestate succession, property goes to close family members, beginning with a surviving spouse and children, and then gradually broadening out to parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, grandparents, and their legal descendants, and more distant relatives after that. If no relatives can be found, then a decedent’s property goes to the state. Since these laws cover a wide array of family situations, there is quite a lengthy list of them.

Is All the Decedent’s Property Covered by the Massachusetts Intestacy Law?

The only assets that the Massachusetts intestacy law doesn’t cover are assets that pass to people at death by beneficiary or joint tenancy. Common assets that pass to people at death outside of intestacy laws: retirement accounts, life insurance, payable on death accounts, transfer on death accounts, annuities, real property held in joint tenancy or as community property with right of survivorship, bank accounts held in joint tenancy, and property held in living trusts.

Doing your estate planning is a relatively quick process and we can walk you through it every step of the way. If you want to decide the distribution of your estate and enjoy the security of knowing that the ones you love will be taken care of according to your wishes, call us today at 617.299.6976 or send an email to to schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation.