When Pennsylvania residents pass on, their dependents are often left to take care of their financial affairs. This is especially the case when the decedent dies unexpectedly. And if the decedent had no will in place, Pennsylvania intestate laws generally come into play to determine how the decedent’s estate would be distributed.
But the process of gathering and distributing the decedent’s estate, also known as probate, can be time and resource intensive. Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize the cost of probating your estate or eliminate probate altogether.
How can you minimize the cost of probate?
While there are a number of ways to avoid probate, all of them are based on one principle: tilting your assets so they can pass on to someone else upon your death. In other words, if you own assets that cannot immediately pass down to someone else upon your death, then probate will be necessary to transfer such assets.
Here are two steps you can take to save your estate from going through probate.
Transfer your assets to a trust
This is, perhaps, one of the most effective ways of transferring your estate to your beneficiaries without going through probate. When you set up a trust, any property that is held therein becomes the possession of the trust and is managed by the trustee. Upon your demise, such assets are passed on to the designated beneficiaries per the trust’s instrument.
Give away tax-free gifts
Another effective strategy for minimizing probate is reducing the size of your estate. Per Pennsylvania laws, your estate may qualify for simplified probate if it is worth less than $50,000. This can significantly reduce any court expenses especially when the cost of probate is based on the size of your estate.
Protecting your interests
Probate can be a long, public, frustrating and costly process. Acquainting yourself with Pennsylvania probate and estate planning laws can help you safeguard your interests and legacy during the estate planning and probating process.