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Intestacy in MA: What Happens When You Die Without a Will in Massachusetts?

Intestacy in MA - What Happens When You Die Without a Will in Massachusetts - blog image

Navigating the complexities of estate planning can be challenging, especially when considering the consequences of dying without a will in Massachusetts.

The rules of intestacy in MA determine how property and assets are distributed when someone passes away intestate, meaning without a will. These regulations can significantly impact your loved ones. In this post, we’ll explore the specifics of intestacy in MA and what it means for the future of your estate.

Understanding Intestacy in MA

When someone dies without a will in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, their estate is subject to the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (G.L. c. 190B) for intestate succession. This set of laws serves as a default plan for the distribution of assets, outlining who inherits and how much they receive based on their relationship to the deceased.

Who Inherits Your Estate?

The intestacy laws in Massachusetts prioritize immediate family members. The distribution pattern is as follows:

Source: Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (G. L. c. 190B) Intestate Succession

The list goes on to include more distant relatives if there are no immediate family members.

A view of mountains and a sunset.

Why Is Having a Will Important?

Intestacy may lead to outcomes that don’t reflect your wishes, which is why it’s critical to have a will. A will enables you to control how your assets are distributed, including making provisions for friends, charities, and pets, which intestacy laws don’t account for. Furthermore, a will can help you:

  • Appoint guardians for minor children
  • Minimize legal disputes among beneficiaries
  • Provide instructions for your personal and financial affairs

Estate Planning Is Essential

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy; it’s a vital step for anyone who wants to ensure their wishes are honored. By creating a will and other estate planning documents, you take control of your legacy and provide clarity for your loved ones during a challenging time.

Next Steps for Massachusetts Residents

If you’re a Massachusetts resident without a will, consider taking the following actions:

  • Learn more about estate planning: Educate yourself about wills, trusts, and other estate planning tools.
  • Consult with an attorney: Estate planning is a complex legal area. Speaking with a professional can ensure your plans comply with state laws and truly reflect your wishes.
  • Create a will: Although it can be uncomfortable to think about, drafting a will is a proactive step you can take today to protect your loved ones tomorrow.


Planning your estate is a profound gesture of care for those you leave behind. While intestacy laws offer a default solution, taking the time to craft a will ensures that your legacy is distributed according to your desires.

Remember, estate planning is a continuous process and should be revisited throughout life’s major events, such as marriage, the birth of children, or the acquisition of significant assets. Don’t leave your estate to the law; take charge and make your wishes known.

Keywords: intestacy, estate planning, wills

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For tailored estate planning guidance, please consult McGinn Law, PC, a licensed attorney in Massachusetts.