Estate planning is designed not only to protect a person's heirs and beneficiaries from having to pay estate tax, but also to keep assets out of probate. However, there are times when trying to avoid the probate process could end up doing more harm than good. This is especially true since the process is largely uneventful for most Massachusetts families.
Putting assets into a living trust or establishing co-ownership of assets may work for some people, but for others, it could be more problematic and deny the original owner of the assets control over them. Properly drafted wills are also good for distributing any assets that were either forgotten or acquired after something such as a living will was executed. When the will is probated, those assets will be distributed in accordance with the maker's wishes as outlined in the will.
Probate doesn't always take a long time either. For instance, in one state beneficiaries and heirs will often receive their inheritance within four to eight months after the probate is filed. This may not be the fastest distribution rate in the nation, but is still reasonable. There are also shorter processes in many states for estates that aren't that large.
If the estate is a large one or has a lot of moving party, going through the Massachusetts probate process can be time consuming and even expensive. However, attempting to avoid it all costs could still put a decedent's family in the same position. Before making estate planning decisions, it may be beneficial to explore all of the options. A will has to go through probate anyway, so trying to avoid it may be futile and misguided.
Source: lifehealthpro.com, 6 reasons why probate isn't that bad, Tom Nawrocki, Sept. 13, 2013