Why do people plan to avoid probate?

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Estate Planning, probate

Those who read this legal blog regularly likely know about probate. For the uninitiated, probate is the legal process of settling an individual’s estate after death. It often poses challenges, such as time delays, expenses and the loss of privacy.

As a result, Massachusetts residents frequently engage in estate planning to sidestep the probate process and ensure a smoother transition of assets to their heirs. And, in this post, we explore the reasons behind this preference and outline various methods available for estate planning in the state.

Why avoid probate?

Probate involves validating a will, assessing the deceased person’s assets and distributing them according to state laws. This process can last a year or more, freezing estate assets and incurring fees that diminish the estate’s value. Additionally, probate is a public affair, exposing details like beneficiaries’ names and addresses, which can sometimes expose family secrets, like affairs.

To save time, money and privacy, many individuals turn to estate planning to facilitate a more efficient and discreet transfer of assets to their loved ones.

Estate planning strategies in Massachusetts

One way to avoid probate is through jointly held property. Ownership of property with joint tenancy automatically transfers to the surviving co-owner, bypassing probate. Another is beneficiary designations. Assets like life insurance policies, retirement accounts and payable-on-death accounts can directly pass to named beneficiaries, avoiding probate.


Trusts offer a versatile estate planning option. By transferring property to a trustee, who manages it for the benefit of beneficiaries, individuals can achieve specific goals such as avoiding probate, minimizing taxes and protecting assets. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, funded during lifetime or at death, providing tailored solutions based on individual needs.

While these strategies offer effective ways to sidestep probate, it is crucial to consider their respective advantages and disadvantages. Each method may not be universally suitable, and individuals should tailor their estate plans to align with their unique circumstances.

The motivation for estate planning in Massachusetts lies in the desire to bypass the complexities of probate. By implementing strategies such as jointly held property, beneficiary designations and trusts, individuals can safeguard their assets, ensuring a seamless transition to their beneficiaries while maintaining privacy and minimizing associated costs. Ultimately, a well-thought-out estate plan tailored to individual needs can provide peace of mind and financial security for both the planner and their loved ones.