Techniques for Keeping Your Probate Estate Small

Techniques for Keeping Your Probate Estate Small

Probate – it seems like something most people want to avoid or minimize at the very least. However, a decedent’s property must pass through probate to heirs and beneficiaries, right? Not always. There are techniques for keeping your probate estate small that may help your heirs get their inheritance more quickly and pay less in expenses.

An important goal, then, may be to keep Assets OUT of Your Estate.

But how?

Listed below are some of the strategies your estate planning attorney might discuss with you:

Beneficiary Designations

Most financial institutions and insurance companies allow the policyholders to designate beneficiaries. When the policyholder dies, financial accounts and insurance payouts pass directly to the designated beneficiaries without passing through the probate court.


One way to reduce your estate is to give it away now. The IRS annual exclusion for 2018 is $15,000. This means that gifts up to $15,000 per person are not subjected to a gift tax. There are advantages and disadvantages to this strategy. Discuss your options with your attorney or financial advisor before you start randomly transferring funds.

Titling Property

Real estate may be owned by one or more individuals. How the property is titled makes a difference when it comes time to probate a person’s estate. For example, if property is owned as joint property with rights of survivorship, a deceased owner’s interest transfers to the other owner(s) without the need for probate. There’s more to titling property than just avoiding probate. Discuss all the pros and cons with your attorney before signing and recording any documents related to real property.


A grantor creates a trust by signing a trust document and then funding the trust. This means that assets are transferred to the trust and become trust assets. This type of asset typically does not become part of a person’s probate estate, although there may be exceptions.

Learn More About Keeping Your Probate Estate Small

John Mangan is an experienced Florida estate planning attorney who has been board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates by the Florida Bar. At Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., we help clients develop an estate plan that’s appropriate for their circumstances. Call us at 772-324-9050 to set up an appointment or use our Contact Form. With our office located in Palm City, we also assist clients in surrounding communities like Stuart, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie.