What happens if you die without a Will? How will your property in Massachusetts pass to your loved ones? It is often said that if you don't have an estate plan, the State has one for you. Here it is:
1) If a person dies with a spouse, and with kindred (relatives) surviving them, (but no children), the spouse is entitled to the first $200,000 and half of the remaining real and personal property. If the personal property is not sufficient to provide the surviving spouse with $200,000, real estate owned by the deceased can be sold or mortgaged to provide for the surviving spouse.
If the deceased leaves issue (children, and children, grandchildren, etc. of deceased children), the surviving spouse shall take one half of all real and personal property.
If the deceased leaves no issue or kindred, the surviving spouse inherits all of the real and personal property.
2) After the surviving spouse's share is distributed, or if there is no surviving spouse, the remaining property is distributed in equal shares to the decedent's issue, by right of representation. If all issue are of the same degree of kindred (i.e., all are grandchildren, or all are greatgrandchildren) they shall share equally.
If the decedent leaves no issue, than to his or her mother and father, or the survivor of them.
If the decedent leaves no issue and no parents, than the property goes to his or her brothers and sisters, of the issue of any deceased brothers and sisters.
If the decedent dies with no issue, parents or siblings then the property is distributed to then to his next of kin in equal degree; but if there are two or more
collateral kindred in equal degree claiming through different
ancestors, those claiming through the nearest ancestor shall be
preferred to those claiming through an ancestor more remote.
3) If someone dies with no spouse or kindred, their property shall escheat to the Commonweatlh.
Those without a Will may think that their spouse will inherit all of their property upon their death, but as you can see, it is possible that a spouse would only inherit half of the property held in the decedent's name alone, while also providing for distributions to rather distant relatives. Is this how you would want your Will to read?
See: Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 190 ss. 1, 2, & 3.