Most people are aware that they need a Will, however about 70% of us--don't have one. People put it off for
many reasons, but it's important to know that writing a Will is usually not complicated. Once it's done, you can
rest a little easier, knowing that your wishes will be followed after your death.
What happens if you die without a Will?
If you don't make a Will to transfer your assets when you die, Massachusetts law will determine what happens to
your probate property. Your probate property will be split between your spouse and children, or, if you have no
children, between your spouse and your other relatives according to a predetermined legal formula. If you do not
have a spouse, children, or other relatives to inherit your property, it will go to the state.
Problems with Wills:
A Will may not be the best plan for you and your family because a Will must be probated when you die. A Will
must be allowed by the probate court before it can be enforced. This can be expensive because of legal fees and
costs. Probating your estate must be completed before your assets can be fully distributed to your heirs.
Probate can take a long time, anywhere from a year or more. Most of this time the assets cannot be used until an
accurate inventory can be taken. The court has control and nothing can be distributed or sold without court and/or
executor approval. If your family needs money to live on, they must request a living allowance, which may be
Probate is also a public process so your family has no privacy. Any "interested party" can examine what you
owned and who you owed. Probate sometimes even attracts disgruntled heirs to contest your Will. Your family
will have no control. The probate court determines how much it will cost, how long it will take, and what
information is made public.
If you are interested in avoiding probate, minimizing estate tax, planning for minor children or children with special
needs, a Trust might be the better estate plan for you.
To contact Lynn, telephone (413) 822-9360 or click on the Contact Lynn button on the left and send her an email.
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