When you have worked hard your entire life and made wealth, you most likely want to pass down as much of it as possible to the people you care about. It is for this reason that most people draft wills.
For your will to be executed, however, it has to go through probate. This is the court-supervised process of validating your will, identifying your assets, offsetting your liabilities and distributing what is left per the stipulations of the document. Unfortunately, this process costs money. Left unchecked, probate can eat up a substantial chunk of your estate. Some of these costs include:
- Court fees – these can range from filing fees to the cost of publishing notifications
- Bonds – from estate executor and administrator bonds to trustees, bonds can add up to thousands of dollars
- Professional services – depending on the size and complexity of your estate, chances are your estate’s administrator will engage professionals like lawyers and accountants to facilitate the process.
- Taxes – Minnesota is one of the few states that imposes estate tax.
As you can see, these costs can add up pretty fast and leave a huge bill on your estate. Here are two steps you can take to reduce some of these costs:
1. Leave clear instructions
An invalid will is certainly going to stir up disputes. And so is an ambiguous will. Now, this can only mean one thing: the probate process will take much longer than it should thanks to legal battles. Leaving a valid will behind, and with clear instructions, will often go a long way in ensuring a fast and hassle-free probate.
2. Devalue your estate
Devaluing your estate by giving away gifts and consolidating and paying off your debts can also reduce the costs involved in passing on assets. You might also achieve this by putting some assets under joint ownership with the right of survivorship so they don’t go through probate.
The cost of probate is a genuine concern for most people. Understanding how Minnesota probate laws work can help you protect your interests while drafting your will and other estate planning documents.