Probating a will and distributing the estate property after the death of a loved one can be time-consuming and overwhelming. The procedure requires organizing belongings, reviewing and inventorying assets and debt, and completing estate documentation and court filings.
Missouri probate procedures follow a specific flow. Talking to a seasoned attorney about the requirements will significantly help you through the process. If you have questions about the regulations or need legal guidance with opening an estate in probate in O’Fallon, speak with a lawyer today.
The Missouri Probate Procedure
The Missouri probate process is a formal, court-supervised procedure to ensure the estate representative carries out the descendant’s final wishes. The representative must validate the will, pay off all outstanding taxes and debt, and distribute the property and assets to the estate heirs.
The process takes time but is necessary to protect estate owners and their heirs. A skilled O’Fallon attorney could help open an estate in probate and complete all the requirements.
When people die without wills, the assets pass to their closest family members through an alternate process called intestate succession. However, there are certain assets that the laws do not require probate, including property transferred through a living trust, retirement and bank accounts that name beneficiaries, and property owned in joint tenancy.
Documentation Needed for Opening an Estate in Probate
The personal representative of the estate must collect the required documentation to open the estate, including the following:
- The will, if one exists
- Death certificate
- An inventory of property and assets
- A list of creditors and outstanding debt with balances
- Contact information for the estate beneficiaries and anyone with an interest
- Completed estate forms
Probating an estate is a legal requirement unless the descendant did not leave behind any property to pass to heirs. While the laws require that some property passes through the procedure, there are also specific types of assets that will not. An O’Fallon lawyer could further explain these requirements to those opening estates in probate.
Requirements for the Small Estate Process in O’Fallon
There is a less complicated probate process for small estates that meet the requirements. According to Missouri Revised Statute § 473.097, the small estate proceeding allows for a quicker and straightforward transfer of property and assets to the estate beneficiaries. The requirements to qualify include the following:
- The estate’s value is $40,000 or less
- The descendant passed away 30 days ago or longer
- There is no application for letters testamentary pending or granted
If an estate meets the requirements, the person handling the representative duties must file an Small Estate Affidavit to proceed.
Small Estate Affidavit
The estate representative must file the affidavit, the required documentation, filing fees, and other costs. The court requires a surety bond covering the estate’s total value and signed by all parties with interest.
Consult an Attorney on Opening an Estate in O’Fallon Probate
The court probate action is long and often stressful. Hiring a lawyer experienced at opening an estate in probate in O’Fallon can significantly ease the process.
Legal counsel could offer advice throughout the process and ensure you complete each step as probate laws require. If you have questions or need help with the procedure, call today to schedule an appointment and get started.