Distribution of Assets at Death

A majority of Americans do not have wills. People spend their whole lives accumulating assets (real estate, retirement accounts, investment accounts, digital assets, bank accounts, personal belongings), but then do not spend a few hours to plan how their assets will be distributed when they die. When a person does not make a will, that person leaves it to the state to decide how to distribute their assets at their death. How Massachusetts distributes your assets may surprise you. Here are some examples:

  • If you are married and either you or your spouse have children from outside of your marriage, your spouse just gets the first $100,000 of your assets, plus 50% of the remaining assets, with the remaining 50% going equally to your children.
  • If you are married and do not have children, but at least one parent survives you, your spouse gets the first $200,000 of your assets and the balance is divided, with 75% going to your spouse and the remaining 25% going to your surviving parent(s).