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What happens when Massachusetts residents die without wills?

Many Massachusetts residents still do not have an estate plan. Having wills drawn up requires that they contemplate their own deaths, and that is not a pleasant prospect for anyone. So what happens to a person's estate if he or she dies without a will? In some cases, chaos ensues. In all cases, surviving family members must rely on state law and spend extra time and money in court.

When a Massachusetts resident dies intestate, which means he or she did not have a will, the state determines who receives the estate. A person's assets could easily end up with someone that neither the decedent nor surviving family members would want to have them. For example, an estranged husband made a claim for his wife's estate and received her assets because she had no will. This is just one of many horror stories out there.

Furthermore, without any indication of what the decedent would have wanted, family members could end up in court fighting over the assets of their loved one. It could take family members an inordinate amount of time to find all of the assets their loved one owned prior to death, and there is no guarantee that everything will be found. The probate could last for months or even years depending on the circumstances.

Wills do require some cost up front, but the savings in time, money and emotional distress to family members are often worth the cost. The individual will also have the opportunity to choose who receives certain assets. For people who have children, appointing a guardian for them in the event of death is reason enough to have a will.

Source: madamenoire.com, "Do You Have A Will?", Christine Mwaturura No, Feb. 4, 2016

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