If you’re still married to the parent of your children, then protecting your children’s inheritance won’t be a primary concern, since your spouse (the kids’ other parent) will leave your assets — and what’s left of your marital estate — to them after death. On the other hand, if you have children from a previous marriage, the ties that bind your current spouse (the stepparent) to your children will probably not be as strong.
Because of the way marital property and Massachusetts intestacy laws work, if you die without a will, your current spouse may be able to take a lot more of your individual assets and the marital estate than you wish. Even though your children will have some inheritance rights related to your individual property — which they can assert in probate court if necessary — dying without a will could leave your children with much less than you had planned.
For this reason, it’s vital that you keep your separate property apart from your marital estate. It’s also vital that you write your will carefully to ensure that your children and other beneficiaries receive their share of this property. To be extra secure, you may also want to create a trust that will ensure that only the beneficiaries of the trust can access and receive benefits from the trust after you’re gone. Incidentally, creating a trust like this will also protect your children’s inheritances from being pilfered by their own spouses in the event of a divorce.
If you’d like to know more about protecting your children’s inheritances under Massachusetts estate planning laws, visit our website now.