While our blog always makes a point to highlight the importance of estate planning, we took a slightly different approach this past summer by exploring how Massachusetts’ intestate distribution scheme works. Specifically, the intention was to demonstrate how inaction in this area could result in hard-earned assets being divided among family members you perhaps wouldn’t have chosen — or even the Commonwealth.

To that end, we examined intestate property distribution in which the surviving spouse is the only heir and intestate property distribution in which the surviving spouse is not the only heir. We’ll conclude this discussion in today’s post, examining property distribution in which there is no surviving spouse.   

Property distribution in which there is no spouse

Should a person pass away with neither an estate plan nor a living spouse, state law dictates that their child or children are considered their heirs and, as such, assets should be distributed among them.

However, should the person pass away without an estate plan, a living spouse or any children to speak of, their parent or parents are considered their heirs and, as such, assets should be distributed among them.

If both parents have passed away, state law indicates that the next heir or heirs are the parent’s descendants, meaning the sibling or siblings of the deceased person.

If the person passes away without an estate plan, a living spouse, children, parents or siblings, their next of kin are considered their heirs and, as such, assets should be distributed among them as necessary.

Finally, the Commonwealth is considered an heir when a deceased person has no estate plan and no relations to speak of, meaning the assets essentially go to the state’s coffers.

Here’s hoping the foregoing discussion has proven helpful. Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have questions or would like to start working on creating a comprehensive estate plan.