Nobody likes probate proceedings because it takes time to complete, and it can represent an additional expense after your loved one dies. However, the probate process is usually going to be necessary and -- to a certain extent -- unavoidable. With a sound estate plan, you can bypass probate for some of your assets, but whatever remains of the estate itself may still need to go through probate proceedings.
Sometimes Massachusetts residents decide that they want to do some good in the world while also receiving some benefits themselves. One way to do this is to create what's called a charitable remainder trust. This kind of trust has one or more named beneficiaries. The beneficiary could be a loved one. It could even be yourself.
If you're still married to the parent of your children, then protecting your children's inheritance won't be a primary concern, since your spouse (the kids' other parent) will leave your assets -- and what's left of your marital estate -- to them after death. On the other hand, if you have children from a previous marriage, the ties that bind your current spouse (the stepparent) to your children will probably not be as strong.
Many Massachusetts residents would agree -- some in jest and some quite seriously -- that their pets are more important members of their family than their children. For this reason, a lot of estate planners ask their attorneys how they can make a plan to ensure their pets are well-taken care of when they're gone.