How to avoid full probate on small estates

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2023 | Estate Administration And Probate |

Going through a lengthy probate process is something that you don’t want to do as an executor or put your heirs through after your death. However, smaller estates in New York state can go through partial probate if they qualify for the state’s threshold.

New York’s probate threshold and qualifications

Small estates valued at under $50,000 do not have to pass through full, formal probate. That figure doesn’t include all assets, as certain ones are exempt. If your estate has the potential to top that figure, careful estate planning can help avoid full probate.

Non-probate assets include life insurance policies, IRAs, U.S savings bonds, and jointly held bank accounts. Assets with a designated beneficiary also do not count toward the minimum threshold. If you leave behind a surviving spouse or children under the age of 21, the state’s “exemption for the benefit of the family” applies. The items go first to a surviving spouse. If there is no spouse, the items go to the deceased’s children. The state specifies a wide range of exemptions and includes a maximum value for each. Knowing the worth of the items you can leave to your heirs in this manner is essential for estate planning.

Setting up your estate plan

Careful planning of your estate, even if your assets are worth more than $50,000, can help you avoid full probate. Careful planning is the key to reducing the chances of requiring your executor to go through the process. Diversification of your assets is crucial to avoiding probate.

It’s never too early to begin the estate planning process. You can always change it in the future. Drafting a will is only one element. Careful designation of beneficiaries, setting up trusts and putting assets in exempt financial instruments can save your heirs time and additional grief after your passing.