Question: I don’t have a Will. What happens with my estate if I die without a Will?
Answer: In Massachusetts, if you die without having a Will, various decisions will be made without your input. Important matters, such as: who receives your property, who is in charge of your estate and who takes guardianship of your minor children. The rules for each topic and cost differential are discussed below.
Property – according to state law, if you die without a Will, your property is split: 50% to your spouse & 50% to your children. Without children, your spouse will receive the first $200,000 and share evenly the remainder with your living parents, or siblings. Should you die single: any children share your property equally. However, without children, your parents are first in line to receive your property, followed by your siblings. Of course, in a Will, you can name anyone as a recipient, and name backups in case your recipient dies before you.
Administrator – in order for your property to be passed on to your heirs, someone has to deliver it. They will need legal authority to act on behalf of the estate, because your assets are held in bank accounts, real estate and investment plans. Anyone can run for the position, including family, friends, enemies and, believe it or not, creditors. Unless you name someone in your Will, a court will have no guidance about who should take charge.
Guardianship – for such a personal and important matter as this, many parents can’t bear the thought of someone else raising their kids. Ignoring the issue does not make it go away. Consider how much scrutiny parents put into selecting a babysitter, yet many disregard this topic because it is uncomfortable. Grow up! Without naming a preferred guardian in your Will, a court will independently decide who will raise your kids. Your desire or opinion is not considered, no matter how many people you’ve told.
Cost – a basic estate plan costs approximately $500.00 per couple and includes additional documents such as a Health Care Proxy, Durable Power of Attorney and Declaration of Homestead, if needed. The certainty provided by these documents can save your heirs thousands of dollars, typically spent to settle such matters. Further, by leaving a Will, you essentially guide your family through this difficult time. Consider it your last official act of responsible parenting.
Contact Attorney James Haroutunian to begin your estate plan by calling 978-671-0711, prioritylaw.com, hlawoffice.com, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Evening appointments and home visits can be made available.