Why Would I Want to Avoid Probate? Understanding the Process and Its Alternatives

5 April 2023by Irina Prell0

Probate is a legal process that can be both time-consuming and costly, affecting the distribution of your assets after you pass away. Many people seek ways to avoid probate to ensure a smoother, quicker transfer of their estate to their loved ones. This blog explores what probate entails, how assets are distributed without a will, the benefits of avoiding probate, and strategies to bypass it, highlighting the critical role of a will and a carefully planned estate plan.

What is Probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process of authenticating a deceased person’s will, inventorying their assets, paying off debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to heirs or beneficiaries. While probate provides a systematic method for handling an estate, it can also lead to potential complications and delays in asset distribution.

Distribution Without a Will

If a person dies intestate (without a will), the court steps in to distribute their assets according to the state’s intestacy laws. These laws prioritize relatives in a set order — typically starting with spouses and children, followed by more distant relatives. This one-size-fits-all approach may not align with the deceased’s wishes, potentially leading to undesirable outcomes for the distribution of their estate.


Why Avoid Probate?

Avoiding probate offers several benefits:

  • Speed: Probate can take months or even years. Avoiding it means beneficiaries can access their inheritance more quickly.
  • Cost: Probate can be expensive, with legal fees, court costs, and executor fees reducing the estate’s value. Avoiding probate saves these costs.
  • Privacy: Probate is a public process, making the details of the estate accessible to anyone. Avoiding probate keeps these matters private.
  • Simplicity: Bypassing probate simplifies the transfer of assets, making it less stressful for your beneficiaries during a difficult time.


How to Avoid Probate

Several strategies can help you bypass the probate process:

  • Living Trusts: Placing your assets in a living trust allows for direct transfer to beneficiaries upon death, avoiding probate.
  • Joint Ownership: Property owned jointly, with rights of survivorship, passes directly to the surviving owner without probate.
  • Payable-on-Death (POD) and Transfer-on-Death (TOD) Accounts: Designating beneficiaries for bank accounts, retirement accounts, and securities allows these assets to pass directly to the beneficiaries.
  • Gifting: You can reduce your estate’s size subject to probate by gifting assets within IRS limits during your lifetime.

The Importance of a Will and Careful Estate Planning

While some assets can bypass probate through the mechanisms mentioned above, having a will is crucial. A will ensures that any assets not covered by trusts, joint ownership, or beneficiary designations are distributed according to your wishes. Moreover, a will can appoint guardians for minor children, an aspect that cannot be addressed through transfer-on-death arrangements.

A carefully planned estate plan goes beyond drafting a will. It involves considering various tools, such as trusts, to manage your estate’s complexity, your family’s needs, and your specific wishes. Estate planning allows you to control the distribution of your assets, minimize taxes, and provide for your loved ones with clarity and efficiency.



Avoiding probate can significantly benefit your estate and your beneficiaries, offering a faster, cost-effective, and private method for transferring assets. However, avoiding probate should be part of a comprehensive estate plan that includes a will to cover all bases. Consulting with an estate planning attorney is vital to navigate these options and develop a plan that best suits your needs and wishes. Prell Spearing Law Firm specializes in estate planning and can help you create a tailored plan that ensures your legacy is preserved and passed on according to your desires.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2300 McGregor Blvd, Suite 102, Fort Myers FL 33901
+1 239-231-2222

Follow us:


Prell Spearing Law Firm is located in Downtown Naples & The Historic District of Fort Myers. We also service areas nearby including Cape Coral, Punta Gorda, Bonita, Sanibel, and Sarasota. We can represent clients throughout the State of Florida