If there is one legal document you should have it is a will. When a person dies without having first been advised to write a will, state law determines how that person’s assets will be distributed. It doesn’t matter if you’ve told someone close to you your wishes, Massachusetts will only recognize a validly executed will. However, if a person has a valid will then they can use that will to designate to whom their assets will be left as well as using it to designate guardians for their minor children, if they have any.
For a will to be valid in Massachusetts it must meet legal requirements. The legal requirements for a will are described in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 191, and in summary they are:
1) A person must be 18 of years and of sound mind;
2) It must be signed by the person whose making it, or signed by someone at that person’s express direction;
3) It must be signed in the presence of two or more competent witnesses;
It should be noted that Massachusetts will not recognize holographic wills (handwritten wills). To ensure that whoever will write your will executes it properly and that it covers everything that you want or need it to cover, you should definitely consult with an estate planning attorney. For the amount of potential money and stress you will cause your family if you do not have a will, the cost of having an attorney create one for you is extremely minimal.