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Tampa Estate Planning Attorney > Blog > Estate Planning > 3 Strategies For Simplifying Probate

3 Strategies For Simplifying Probate


Leif, the retired physician who writes the Physician on FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) blog correctly states that the only way to avoid probate is to become immortal, but unless you can succeed where Gilgamesh failed, probate is probably as inevitable as death and taxes.  If you are trying to avoid probate entirely, you probably will not succeed.  A more realistic goal is to make probate as inexpensive and stress-free as possible for your family or for anyone else to whom you have bequeathed assets in your will or whom you have appointed as personal representative of your estate.  Some of these strategies for simplifying probate are simply a matter of life circumstances, some only require the patience to wait on hold with customer service representatives, and others require the help of a Tampa estate planning attorney.

When Keeping It Simple Is the Only Option

Everyone wants to be rich, except when it comes to divorce and probate.  Just as divorce is much simpler for couples who do not own very much property together, having a modest estate makes things simpler when your soul divorces your body.  In Florida, estates valued at $75,000 or less qualify for a simplified probate process; the value of any vehicles owned by the decedent is not included in the calculation of the value of the estate.

Probate Assets and Non-Probate Assets

The goal of estate planning is not to avoid probate entirely, but rather to keep as many of your assets out of probate as possible.  You may have read about multimillionaires whose estates, according to the probate court, were valued at $200,000 or less.  What happened to all of those millions?  In most cases, the decedent found a variety of ways to pass the assets to the heirs and beneficiaries outside of probate.  Most wealthy people have revocable or irrevocable trusts, family limited partnerships, or family limited liability companies.  Even if your property is not valuable enough to be worth the trouble of setting up those kinds of entities, you can designate beneficiaries for certain assets, so these assets will not have to go through probate.  While the idea of designating a beneficiary is the same whether the asset is a real estate property, a bank account, or an investment account, the procedures for appointing a beneficiary differ for each kind of asset.

Generosity Is the Best Form of Estate Planning

One way to keep assets out of probate is to give them to the beneficiaries when you are alive.  If you hated the drudgery of sorting out your parents’ personal property with your siblings after your parents died, give family heirlooms to your younger family members as Christmas gifts or donate them to charity.  You can also give tax free cash gifts of up to $15,000 per recipient per year.

Contact David Toback With Questions About Frugal Ways to Be Generous

A Central Florida estate planning lawyer can help you avoid unnecessary expenses while passing assets to the next generation now or in the future.  Contact David Toback in Tampa, Florida to set up a consultation.

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