A guide to Massachusetts probate laws.
Anyone at least 18 years old of “sound mind” can write a will in Massachusetts.
Every will must be signed by two witnesses of general competence.
Yes, but unless there are two other disinterested witnesses the inheritance may be void.
Massachusetts does not explicitly forbid handwritten wills (called “holographic wills” when not signed by witnesses). However, in order for your handwritten will to be valid, it must be signed and witnessed properly.
No, Massachusetts is not a community property state.
In a community property state, each spouse has an equal share of property acquired during the marriage. Property acquired before the marriage is considered separate property.
In Massachusetts, when there is no will, the court will determine who receives the intestate estate based on the laws of intestate succession.
This is how much a surviving spouse receives in a few different circumstances:
|If the decedent is survived by a spouse and:||Surviving spouse's share|
|No children or parents||Everything|
|Children with the surviving spouse||Everything|
|Parent(s), but no children||The first $200,000, plus 3/4 of the intestate estate|
|Children with the surviving spouse and children with someone else||The first $100,000, plus 1/2 of the intestate estate|
|Children with someone else||The first $100,000, plus 1/2 of the intestate estate|
Otherwise, when there is no surviving spouse, then the intestate estate will pass along in the following order:
The way this works, is that for someone to receive the estate, there must not be anyone left in the category above them. If an inheritor is dead, then their share typically passes to their children by a per capita at each generation designation.
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Before the testator’s death, a will may be filed with the court for safekeeping. After the testator’s death, the will should be filed with probate and family court in the county where the decedent died or owned property.
In Massachusetts, estates can be administered voluntarily without court procedure whether or not the decedent had a will, as long as the following conditions are met:
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Elissa is a personal finance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She writes about estate planning, mortgages, and occasionally health insurance. In the past she has written about film and music.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.
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