Important precautions to consider when drafting a will
People should know what happens in Massachusetts if they did not write up their last living wills and testaments.
Anyone living in Massachusetts who has friends and family connection has probably wondered about what will happen to their loved ones after life has ended. Whether it is an elderly person who is expecting not to last another decade, or whether it is someone working a dangerous job with a high risk of injury or death, a will is a measure that can ensure the proper division of all of the property and assets that have been accumulated throughout one’s life. While it may not seem that important to someone who does not have a lot of assets to divide, the stories of what has happened to people who did not take the time to write out a will can give pause to anyone who is on the fence about drafting one.
Examples of what can happen without a will
The following real-life examples which are shared in an article by Forbes really give light to the risks that people may not consider when they put off writing a will:
One man, Khasif Ahmed, writes of his father who died in the 9/11 attacks before being able to write a will. In 2016 he wrote that he was still trying to find all of the items in his father’s estate, which spanned across multiple countries. This example gives testament to the fact that one of the best reasons to write a will is to have a written account of all significant assets, as one individual will always be in a better position to take account of his or her possessions than anyone else.
Clark Randall, a Certified Financial Planner in Dallas, shared a story about a client of his who had named his wife as beneficiary of his health insurance. Unfortunately, the client slipped into alcoholism and divorced his wife, dying shortly after. With no “wife” for the insurance to go to, and no will to designate where it should go to next, the money ended up being managed by the State and was inaccessible to the ex-wife and her children.
What happens if there is not a will?
After considering the examples above, someone might be thinking twice about putting off writing a will. What people should be aware of is that in the State of Massachusetts, the law states that all property and estates that are not contained within a last living will and testament will be divided at the court’s discretion between the spouse (if one exists), any creditors with rights to collect debts and also to direct heirs. A written will always takes priority over these default rules.
Anyone in Massachusetts who has accumulated wealth and assets would be wise to come up with a plan for what to with it all when they are gone. An attorney in the local area who practices estate planning may be able to help with wording and taking account of an estate.