It is a misconception that by having a will, family members will not have to go through the Massachusetts courts in order to receive their inheritances. The will must still go through the probate process before that can happen. That could take up to, or more than, a year to complete. Before you complete your estate plan, it may be a good idea to make sure that your family members understand what to expect after your death.
This is due to the fact that here in Massachusetts, creditors have up to a year to file claims against the estate. Before that time begins to run, however, a probate petition will need to be filed, at which time the executor of the will is appointed. Once that step is complete, the notice to creditors is sent and the clock begins.