:::: MENU ::::

Massachusetts Intestacy Laws

The following are excerpts from Massachusetts’ intestacy laws. Please reference the full body of the Probate Code of the Massachusetts General Laws at the Massachusetts Legislature’s site for any changes to those laws that may not be reflected below.

MASSACHUSETTS INTESTACY EVALUATOR℠

You can also open the Massachusetts Intestacy Evaluator℠ to see the distribution of a Massachusetts intestate estate based upon any person’s unique family and financial circumstances.
 

Massachusetts Intestate Laws

Section 1-101. [Short Title.]
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code.

Section 1-201. [Definitions and Inclusions.]
Subject to additional definitions contained in the subsequent articles that are applicable to specific articles, parts, or sections, and unless the context otherwise requires, in this chapter:
(5) ”Child”, includes an individual entitled to take as a child under this chapter by intestate succession from the parent whose relationship is involved and excludes a person who is only a stepchild, a foster child, a grandchild, or any more remote descendant.

(9) ”Descendant”, of an individual means all of such individual’s descendants of all generations, with the relationship of parent and child at each generation being determined by the definition of child and parent contained in this chapter.
(21) ”Heirs”, except as controlled by section 2-711, are persons, including the surviving spouse and the commonwealth, who are entitled under the statutes of intestate succession to the property of a decedent.
(25) ”Issue”, means descendant as defined in subsection (9).
(34) ”Parent”, includes any person entitled to take, or who would be entitled to take if the child died without a will, as a parent under this chapter by intestate succession from the child whose relationship is in question and excludes any person who is only a stepparent, foster parent, or grandparent.
(40) ”Property”, includes both real and personal property or any interest therein and means anything that may be the subject of ownership.
(51) ”Survive”, except for purposes of part 3 of article VI, means that an individual has neither predeceased an event, including the death of another individual, nor is deemed to have predeceased an event under section 2-104 or 2-702. The term includes its derivatives, such as ”survives”, ”survived”, ”survivor”, ”surviving”.

Section 2-101. [Intestate Estate.]
(a) Any part of a decedent’s estate not effectively disposed of by will passes by intestate succession to the decedent’s heirs as prescribed in this part, except as modified by the decedent’s will.
(b) A decedent by will may expressly exclude or limit the right of an individual or class to succeed to property of the decedent passing by intestate succession. If that individual or a member of that class survives the decedent, the share of the decedent’s intestate estate to which that individual or class would have succeeded passes as if that individual or each member of that class had disclaimed the intestate share.

Section 2-102. [Share of Spouse.]
The intestate share of a decedent’s surviving spouse is:
(1) the entire intestate estate if:
(i) no descendant or parent of the decedent survives the decedent; or
(ii) all of the decedent’s surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and there is no other descendant of the surviving spouse who survives the decedent;
(2) the first $200,000, plus 3/4 of any balance of the intestate estate, if no descendant of the decedent survives the decedent, but a parent of the decedent survives the decedent;
(3) the first $100,000 plus 1/2 of any balance of the intestate estate, if all of the decedent’s surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has 1 or more surviving descendants who are not descendants of the decedent;
(4) the first $100,000 plus 1/2 of any balance of the intestate estate, if 1 or more of the decedent’s surviving descendants are not descendants of the surviving spouse.

Section 2-103. [Share of Heirs Other Than Surviving Spouse.]
Any part of the intestate estate not passing to the decedent’s surviving spouse under section 2-102, or the entire intestate estate if there is no surviving spouse, passes in the following order to the individuals designated below who survive the decedent:
(1) to the decedent’s descendants per capita at each generation;
(2) if there is no surviving descendant, to the decedent’s parents equally if both survive, or to the surviving parent;




(3) if there is no surviving descendant or parent, to the descendants of the decedent’s parents or either of them per capita at each generation;
(4) if there is no surviving descendant, parent, or descendant of a parent, then equally to the decedent’s next of kin in equal degree; but if there are 2 or more descendants of deceased ancestors in equal degree claiming through different ancestors, those claiming through the nearest ancestor shall be preferred to those claiming through an ancestor more remote. Degrees of kindred shall be computed according to the rules of civil law.

Section 2-104: Reserved

Section 2-105. [No Taker.]
If there is no taker under the provisions of this article, the intestate estate passes to the commonwealth; provided, however, if such intestate is a veteran who died while a member of the Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts or the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, the intestate estate shall inure to the benefit of the legacy fund or legacy account of the soldiers’ home of which the intestate was a member.

Section 2-106. (a) [Representation.]
In this section:
(1) ”Deceased descendant”, ”deceased parent”, or ”deceased ancestor”, a descendant, parent, or ancestor who predeceased the decedent.
(2) ”Surviving descendant”, a descendant who survived the decedent.
(b) If, under section 2-103(1), a decedent’s intestate estate or a part thereof passes ”per capita at each generation” to the decedent’s descendants, the estate or part thereof is divided into as many equal shares as there are (i) surviving descendants in the generation nearest to the decedent that contains 1 or more surviving descendants, and (ii) deceased descendants in the same generation who left surviving descendants, if any. Each surviving descendant in the nearest generation is allocated 1 share. The remaining shares, if any, are combined and then divided in the same manner among the surviving descendants of the deceased descendants as if the surviving descendants in the nearest generation and their surviving descendants had predeceased the decedent.
(c) If, under section 2-103(3), a decedent’s intestate estate or a part thereof passes ”per capita at each generation” to the descendants of the decedent’s deceased parents or either of them, the estate or part thereof is divided into as many equal shares as there are (i) surviving descendants in the generation nearest the deceased parents or either of them that contains 1 or more surviving descendants, and (ii) deceased descendants in the same generation who left surviving descendants, if any. Each surviving descendant in the nearest generation is allocated 1 share. The remaining shares, if any, are combined and then divided in the same manner among the surviving descendants of the deceased descendants as if the surviving descendants in the nearest generation and their surviving descendants had predeceased the decedent.

Section 2-107. [Kindred of Half Blood.]
Relatives of the half blood inherit the same share they would inherit if they were of the whole blood.

Section 2-108. [Afterborn Heirs.]
An individual in gestation at a particular time is treated as living at that time if the individual lives 120 hours or more after birth.

Section 2-111. [Alienage.]
No individual is disqualified to take as an heir because the individual or another individual through whom the individual claims is or has been an alien.

Section 2-112. [Dower and Curtesy Abolished.]
The estates of dower and curtesy are abolished.

Section 2-113. [Individuals Related to Decedent Through Two Lines.]
An individual who is related to the decedent through 2 lines of relationship is entitled to only a single share based on the relationship that would entitle the individual to the larger share.

Section 2-114. [Parent and Child Relationship.]
(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), for purposes of intestate succession by, through, or from a person, an individual is the child of his natural parents, regardless of their marital status. The parent and child relationship may be established under applicable state law.
[Subsection (b) applicable as provided by 2012, 140, Sec. 66.]
(b) An adopted individual is the child of his adopting parent or parents and not of his natural parents, but adoption of a child by the spouse of either natural parent has no effect on the right of the child or a descendant of the child to inherit from or through either natural parent. The court may decree that the rights of succession to property under this section, or under former section 7 of chapter 210, shall vest in an adopted individual as of the date of the filing of the petition for adoption.

Section 2-702. [Requirement of Survival.]
[Subsections (a) and (b) applicable as provided by 2012, 140, Sec. 66.]
(a) For the purposes of this code, except as provided in subsection (d), an individual who is not established to have survived an event, including the death of another individual, is deemed to have predeceased the event.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (d), for purposes of a donative provision of a governing instrument, an individual who is not established to have survived an event, including the death of another individual, is deemed to have predeceased the event.
(c) Except as provided in subsection (d), if (i) it is not established that 1 of 2 co-owners with right of survivorship survived the other co-owner, 1/2 of the property passes as if 1 had survived, and 1/2 as if the other had survived and (ii) there are more than 2 co-owners and it is not established that at least 1 of them survived the others, the property passes in the proportion that one bears to the whole number of co-owners. For the purposes of this subsection, ”co-owners with right of survivorship” includes joint tenants, tenants by the entireties, and other co-owners of property or accounts held under circumstances that entitles 1 or more to the whole of the property or account on the death of the other or others.
(d) This section shall not apply if:
(1) the governing instrument contains language dealing explicitly with simultaneous deaths or deaths in a common disaster and that language is operable under the facts of the case;
(2) the governing instrument expressly indicates that an individual is not required to survive an event, including the death of another individual, by any specified period or expressly requires the individual to survive the event by a specified period;
(3) the application of this section to multiple governing instruments would result in an unintended failure or duplication of a disposition.
(e)(1) A payor or other third party is not liable for having made a payment or transferred an item of property or any other benefit to a beneficiary designated in a governing instrument who, under this section, is not entitled to the payment or item of property, or for having taken any other action in good faith reliance on the beneficiary’s apparent entitlement under the terms of the governing instrument, before the payor or other third party received written notice of a claimed lack of entitlement under this section. A payor or other third party is liable for a payment made or other action taken after the payor or other third party received written notice of a claimed lack of entitlement under this section.
(2) Written notice of a claimed lack of entitlement under paragraph (1) shall be mailed to the payor’s or other third party’s main office or home by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, or served upon the payor or other third party in the same manner as a summons in a civil action. Upon receipt of written notice of a claimed lack of entitlement under this section, a payor or other third party may pay any amount owed or transfer or deposit any item of property held by it to or with the court having jurisdiction of the probate proceedings relating to the decedent’s estate, or if no proceedings have been commenced, to or with the court having jurisdiction of probate proceedings relating to decedents’ estates located in the county of the decedent’s residence. The court shall hold the funds or item of property and, upon its determination under this section, shall order disbursement in accordance with the determination. Payments, transfers, or deposits made to or with the court discharge the payor or other third party from all claims for the value of amounts paid to or items of property transferred to or deposited with the court.
(f)(1) A person who purchases property for value and without notice, or who receives a payment or other item of property in partial or full satisfaction of a legally enforceable obligation, is neither obligated under this section to return the payment, item of property, or benefit nor is liable under this section for the amount of the payment or the value of the item of property or benefit. But a person who, not for value, receives a payment, item of property, or any other benefit to which the person is not entitled under this section is obligated to return the payment, item of property, or benefit, or is personally liable for the amount of the payment or the value of the item of property or benefit, to the person who is entitled to it under this section.
(2) If this section or any part of this section is preempted by federal law with respect to a payment, an item of property, or any other benefit covered by this section, a person who, not for value, receives the payment, item of property, or any other benefit to which the person is not entitled under this section is obligated to return the payment, item of property, or benefit, or is personally liable for the amount of the payment or the value of the item of property or benefit, to the person who would have been entitled to it were this section or part of this section not preempted.