Massachusetts inheritance law details what happens when someone inherits money. If you are making your legacy plan or estate plan, you need to understand how inheritance law will affect the money that you leave behind. You also need to understand how inheritance law will impact your beneficiaries or heirs.
It is always important to consider both the impact of an inheritance, and the method by which heirs will manage an inheritance. However, this becomes an especially important consideration if you are leaving money to a minor who will be under the age of 18 at the time when you provide an inheritance. If you leave money to someone underaged, the law is very strict on what will happen to the money or the property you have provided as an inheritance.
Unfortunately, sometimes you may not like how Massachusetts inheritance law will treat an inheritance that you have left behind for your children or for other kids who are important to you. You need to understand what the default rules are and, if you don’t like those rules, must use appropriate legal tools to opt out of defaults and ensure the inheritance you leave behind works for your loved ones. The Law Offices of James A. Miller can help.
How Does Massachusetts Inheritance Law Treat an Inheritance to Kids?
Minors under the age of 18 cannot assume control over an inheritance which is left to them because they are not legal adults with the capacity to make investment choices or spending decisions. If money or assets are left to a child in a will and no provisions have been made to determine who is to be in charge of the inheritance, the court is going to appoint a guardian for the property.
The guardian will be subject to strict oversight by the court and will have a fiduciary duty to use the funds or property for the best interests of the child who inherited it. The intrusive nature of the court involvement with appointing a guardian and overseeing the actions of a guardian can be undesirable in certain circumstances, so many prefer to explore alternatives other than just simply leaving money to a minor.
When no advanced plans are made and a child is left assets, the guardian will manage money only until the child is 18. At that time, the child will simply inherit a substantial sum of money. This can also be undesirable, as many people don’t just want their kids or grandkids to be handed lots of money or assets with no conditions or oversight at age 18.
What are Your Other Options for Leaving Money to Children?
If you do not want a guardian appointed to manage money left to your child, or if you do not want children to just receive the assets you have left them at age 18 with no strings attached, you should consider the use of other legal tools.
There are different options for leaving money to kids who stand to inherit. One option is to leave money to children under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. This Act makes it possible to transfer money to a child under 18 and name a guardian to be in charge of those funds. The guardian will act as the custodian of the money. However, once the child is considered an adult and the custodianship ends, the child will receive the cash free-and-clear with no strings attached.
Another option, which may be preferable, is for money and assets to be placed into a trust. You can name the trustee to manage property held within the trust for the benefit of the child. You can also maintain continuing control, if desired, until the child reaches a certain age or meets certain milestones.
Getting Help from A Massachusetts Inheritance Law Attorney
The Law Offices of James A. Miller understands how Massachusetts inheritance law will treat all gifts that you provide to heirs or beneficiaries in your will or during your lifetime. Whether you are giving money to a child, to a person with a disability, or to any other heir, we can provide you with advice on the best way to structure your gift of assets.
To learn more about how you can make an estate plan that will allow you to leave a strong legacy, you can download a free estate planning worksheet. You can also give us a call at 508-799-8885 or contact us online to speak with a Massachusetts inheritance tax law lawyer to find out more about your options for providing for the people you love.