Probate is the process of winding up the decedent’s estate, identifying their assets and designated beneficiaries, paying off debts and applicable taxes and distributing what is left according to their wishes or Pennsylvania intestacy laws.
But as you probably know, the cost of probating your estate can run into thousands of dollars. Obviously, the last thing you want is to see your hard-earned wealth going towards probating your estate rather than your loved ones. So how what can you do to reduce the cost of probate? Well, to answer this question, it helps to start off by understanding what contributes to probate costs.
Costs incurred while probating your Pennsylvania estate
- Court costs – these can range from publishing public notifications to filing fees
- Bonds – from trustee, administrator and executor bonds, these too can run into thousands of dollars
- Professional services – these can include appraiser and accountant’s fees as well as attorney fees
- Taxes – Pennsylvania is one of the six states that levy inheritance tax
As you can see, these costs can add up pretty fast. Here are two strategies you can use to minimize these costs.
Be clear in your instructions
The more ambiguous your will is, the more likely it will stir up conflicts. This means that probate will be longer. And longer probate equals higher costs. Leaving clear instructions on what you would want to happen to your estate will go a long way in reducing the cost of probate.
Reduce your estate’s value
Probate costs are generally dependent on the size of your estate. Thus, de-valuing your estate can be an effective probate cost-reduction strategy. Some of the steps you can take to achieve this include paying or consolidating your debts, giving away some of your assets and putting up some of your assets in joint ownership.
The cost of probate is a concern for most people. Find out how you manage the cost of probating your estate during the estate planning process.