In Massachusetts state law, there is a distinct difference between heirs and beneficiaries. Though both are involved with the property left behind by a loved one after their passing, the way they are treated by the law isn’t the same.
Cambridge Dictionary states that a beneficiary is someone who has been given something by a deceased individual. This broad definition covers everything from inheriting money to actual property, along with heirlooms or even personal items like photographs, clothing, books, and other belongings. Most people are referring to money, houses, or other “big ticket” items when discussing property, however.
Heirs, on the other hand, are people who might get said property if not otherwise specified in the will. Heirs can claim property, but there is an order to which they may do so. For example, property will usually first go to the spouse. If there is no spouse, it may go to the children. If there were no children, then it can go to the parents, then to the siblings, and so on until we reach extended family members. It should also be noted that according to FindLaw, heirs can also challenge a will. They are able to do so if they believe they were wrongfully left out or given a disproportionate portion of the estate.
Those who are dealing with matters of the estate understand that it is complex. Because of this, understanding wills is crucial to moving forward in the process and making sure no financial mistakes are made along the way.