When a loved one passes away without a will or when an elderly family member is planning to write up a will, it is important to understand the probate laws in the state. Working with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney can help simplify the process, but having some basic knowledge before talking to a lawyer will make the process of creating a will easier.
Following the Will
Working with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer to create a will is the best way to prevent complications for loved ones. A lawyer can explain the laws regarding inheritance so that it is easier to determine who will receive different items.
In the state of Massachusetts, the legal system follows the will. Unless the will is contested, items are passed along according to the desires of the individual who created the will.
When a Will is Not Created
When a will was not established before a loved one passed away, hiring a probate lawyer may become a necessity. The probate lawyer can help determine if a case is possible and explain the inheritance laws in the state.
In Massachusetts, property that is owned jointly will automatically transfer full ownership to the other party. Tenancy by the Entirety also applies to married couples in Massachusetts, so a spouse will usually inherit a house or similar property, even if it was not a joint asset.
Any funds that were set aside in a Payable Upon Death account will go to the stated beneficiary. The state does not take Payable Upon Death accounts to probate.
If certain assets are not held jointly or there is a debate about who will receive the assets, then the case may go to court. The case will ultimately decide the division of assets based on the relationship with the deceased party.
It is best to work with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer before passing away. Creating a will prevents loved ones from going to court and ensures that assets are given to the appropriate individuals.