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What Massachusetts residents should know about wills

The one thing that everyone can count on is that no one lives forever. Nevertheless, most people are not comfortable contemplating their own deaths, so they do not have wills and other estate-planning documents in place. Even though the individual might not be around to suffer the consequences of failing to plan, his or her family will be. 

Without a will, a Massachusetts court will appoint someone to administer an individual's estate. This might not be the person that he or she would have trusted to take care of such matters. Furthermore, state law will determine who inherits the individual's property. Even if an individual discussed who should be given what property upon death, if it is not written out in a will, those wishes mean nothing legally. Whoever inherits the assets is under no legal obligation to share them with anyone else.

Some Massachusetts residents need more than a will in order to provide for and protect their family members after they pass away. The probate process can take several months or even years depending on the circumstances, and during that time, heirs might not have access to the property they are to inherit. In addition, tax considerations are often at the top of the list for people during estate planning since fewer taxes owed by the estate means more value for heirs and beneficiaries.

Therefore, even though it might not be pleasant, people need to consider what will happen to their property after death. Wills are often considered the cornerstone of any estate plan, but other documents could also be used depending on the circumstances and an individual's goals. Once a plan is in place, it will require periodic review to ensure that it continues to express a benefactor's wishes.

Source: realtor.com, "7 Estate Planning Tips You Should Know Before You Die", Jamie Wiebe, Aug. 29, 2016

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