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Norwood Estate Planning Lawyer > Blog > Probate > Can An Unmarried Partner Claim Assets Through Intestate Succession Massachusetts?

Can An Unmarried Partner Claim Assets Through Intestate Succession Massachusetts?


When a person dies  in the Commonwealth, their estate will need to be settled so that their property and assets can go to the appropriate heirs. This generally happens through a process called probate. Probate is simply the court supervised process for the transferring property ownership after someone has died.

During probate, a person’s Will will be confirmed. If they do not have a Will, then their estate will be handled under intestate succession laws. Unmarried partners lack rights for intestate succession in Massachusetts.  This blog will provide a comprehensive overview of the key things unmarried couples should know about intestate succession in Massachusetts.

Intestate Succession: Defined 

Intestate succession is a legal term referring to the process that occurs when a person dies without a valid Will. The deceased person’s assets, or their “estate,” is then distributed according to the intestacy laws of their state of residence. There is some variation in the intestate succession laws across different jurisdictions. 

Unmarried Partners are Not in the Line of Intestate Succession in Massachusetts 

In Massachusetts, the laws governing intestate succession can be complex, but they are clear about one thing: Unmarried partners do not automatically inherit any portion of their deceased partner’s estate. Instead, the estate is typically distributed amongst the decedent’s closest living relatives – their children, parents, or siblings. Even if the decedent and their partner were engaged or lived together for many years, the law does not recognize this relationship in the same way it recognizes a legal marriage when it comes to intestate succession.

You Can Protect Your Long-Term Partner With an Estate Plan (Will, Trust, etc.) 

For unmarried, long-term partners, estate planning is especially important. Massachusetts law provides no natural inheritance rights. A well-crafted estate plan—which always includes a Will and may also include a trust—can provide protection for an unmarried partner. A Will can clearly state what portion of the estate should go to the partner. If you want to ensure that your partner is taken care of after you pass, creating an estate plan is the best course of action. In addition to a Will or trust, consider other estate planning tools such as a durable power of attorney, health care proxy, or even a cohabitation agreement to protect your partner’s rights and maintain your wishes. An experienced Massachusetts estate planning lawyer can help you and your loved ones put a personalized, effective estate plan in place that best protects your interests.

Consult With Our Massachusetts Probate & Estate Administration Lawyers Today

At Fisher Law LLC, our Massachusetts probate and estate administration attorneys provide reliable, solutions-focused advocacy to clients. If you have any specific questions about the Commonwealth’s intestate succession laws, please do not hesitate to contact us for a fully confidential initial legal consultation. We provide legal services in Norwood, and the surrounding towns throughout Norfolk County, as well as throughout all of the Greater Boston area.



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