Massachusetts Death of Employee: What you need to know

When wages are owed to a deceased employee who dies without a will, an employer may pay up to $100 of the amount owed to the surviving spouse if:
• 30 days have elapsed since the date of death, and
• The employer has received no claim or notice of probate proceedings from the employee's estate.
If there is no surviving spouse, the amount may be paid to an adult child of the deceased, and if there is no surviving child to the surviving father or mother of the deceased employee. The payment discharges the employer's wage and salary obligations for the amount paid (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 149 Sec. 178A). If it cannot be determined whether there is a will, if there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent, or if the wage debt exceeds $100, employers should contact the local court of probate for instructions.
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State employees and officers are not covered by Section 178A. Public employers should contact the local court of probate (http://www.mass.gov/courts) to arrange for the payment of wages and benefits owed to a deceased employee.
There is more information on grief management, helping employees following the death of a coworker, and coping with the loss of a family member.
Last updated on May 2, 2017.

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