What is a Beneficiary to an Estate?

When an individual creates an estate plan, they are preparing for what happens to their assets after they die. In doing so, they create a will or trusts that ensure these assets end up in the right hands. This allows the individual to distribute their possessions and belongings to beneficiaries. A beneficiary is a person or an entity that inherits the assets of a deceased individual. When an estate is going through probate, beneficiaries often find it helpful to seek the assistance of an attorney to guide them through the process and protect their rights to certain assets.

Minor Beneficiaries

When people leave behind their estate, they sometimes leave assets to younger children for them to receive when they grow older. If a child beneficiary is left parts of an estate, trust, or life insurance policy, it may be required that a Guardian oversees and manages the asset(s) until the child is 18 years old. Sometimes this is stated in the will or trust, or an individual passes away without a plan. These situations can become difficult, which is why it is important to have an attorney to assist beneficiaries during this time.

Tax Obligation

In the state of Massachusetts, there is no inheritance tax on beneficiaries. An inheritance tax is a tax that heirs and beneficiaries have to pay that is not on the estate of the individual who died. However, there may be other tax obligations that impact an estate or a personโ€™s inheritance. Massachusetts residents have to pay an estate tax on any estates more than $1 million. The maximum rate for the state estate tax is 16%.


When an individual passes away, the will in their estate plan must go through the process of probate. This process works to see if a will is a valid document. Sometimes, a beneficiary may be suspicious of the content in a will and believe that it did not follow the proper requirements to be legally created. A beneficiary may wish to contest a will is they believe the following:

  • The deceased did not sign their will
  • There were no witnesses present to the signing
  • The deceased was coerced into signing their will

If this happens, a beneficiary may contest a will to determine its validity. An experienced attorney can advise a beneficiary through this process.

Contact our Firm

If you are a beneficiary to an estate and wish to seek more information about your rights, contact the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. today.

If you require compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance for a matter of divorce, family or estate law, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley today. Our firm proudly serves clients in Mansfield, Massachusetts and throughout Bristol County.