The short answer to the question above is, Yes. The slightly longer answer is that it is possible to avoid probate, but only under certain circumstances and only if parties take specific steps.
How to avoid probate
The necessity of the probate process is determined based on how much property and the type of property the decedent owned. Furthermore, it is relevant whether the decedent owned property alone or with another person.
As such, some estates are not subject to probate. For instance, if your estate is valued at $75,000 or less, or if you share property ownership, it can pass outside of probate.
With this in mind, you can utilize various strategies to keep as much property as possible out of probate. Such measures can include:
- Putting property into trusts;
- Joint tenancy;
- Transfer-on-death deeds and securities registrations; and
- Gifting or transferring property before death.
These and other estate planning options can make it easier to administer your estate and distribute property outside of probate.
But is it always wise to avoid probate?
Probate can indeed be a complicated, lengthy process. It can also pit beneficiaries against each other, reignite old rivalries, and cause considerable stress on loved ones who are simultaneously coping with the grief of loss. Probate can also cost money and take a long time to navigate.
But probate isn’t all bad and avoiding it isn’t always the best option – or even possible.
Probate has the benefit of protecting the decedent’s intentions and validating their wishes by ensuring that the administration of their estate aligns with their goals. Furthermore, the court approval that probate provides can reduce or eliminate beneficiaries’ concerns.
It is also important to note that probating an estate is not always overly complicated. When parties take care to make decisions and tie up loose ends in their wills, they can make the process much easier for those navigating it. Indeed, probate is often a very straightforward and easily concluded process.
Making the right choice for you
In many cases, the benefits of avoiding probate can outweigh the benefits of probating an estate. However, determining your best option can take thoughtful consideration and the guidance of an attorney.
Whether your goals include avoiding probate or not, your estate plan should reflect your wishes. Call Sjoberg & Tebelius, P.A. to discuss your estate-planning goals at 651-738-3433.