In general, the probate process involves collecting the decedent’s assets, liquidating liabilities, paying necessary taxes, and distributing property to heirs. With proper planning, the probate estate, and therefore court involvement, can be minimized or even eliminated. Individuals frequently have the mistaken belief that having a will keeps assets out of probate. The will instructs the court on the asset distribution. Assets left in the probate estate cause needless expense and delay in getting the property to the beneficiaries. Keeping beneficiary designations up to date, having joint ownership of assets, and putting various gifting strategies in place can decrease the probate estate.