The probate process in St. Charles County refers to the legal steps that a court and personal representatives of an estate must take to ensure the proper administration of a decedent’s estate. Probate begins when a nominated personal representative informs a court about a decedent’s passing and requests an appointment as the formal personal representative of the estate. This person must also submit the original copy of the will to the court.
The court in question then acts to authenticate the decedent’s will. The court might examine the will for authenticity and handle any allegations of fraud or duress. Once a court determines that a will is genuine, it authorizes the personal representative to take control over the estate. Probate continues until the personal representative fulfills their obligations under the law. While the probate process can be complicated and time consuming, it becomes easier when working under the guidance of a dedicated probate attorney.
Initiating Probate and Submitting a Will
Probate is a required and essential part of the estate planning process, but it never begins automatically. Instead, state law requires parties to submit a petition to initiate probate at their local branch of the probate court. This party is usually the nominated personal representative of the estate in question.
In addition, according to Missouri Revised Statute § 473.043, the potential personal representative must also submit the original version of the decedent’s will to the court. A will needs to be submitted to the Courts within a year of the death, but submitting a full petition for probate as soon as possible allows a court to perform its function and helps heirs receive property as quickly as they are able. An attorney in St. Charles County could assist by providing more information about initiating the probate process.
The Role of the Probate Court
Personal representatives are responsible for properly administrating an estate, but these representatives derive their powers through a probate court decree. Parties submitting a will for probate will usually ask to assume this role.
If the court approves this appointment, it will issue letters testamentary to the personal representative. These letters empower the personal representative to act on behalf of the decedent and the estate as a whole.
Probate courts also act to settle disputes that may arise between heirs and personal representatives. For instance, parties might dispute the authenticity of a will or argue that a personal representative has not acted in the best interests of the estate. These disputes are often a key part of the probate process, and a St. Charles County lawyer could help oversee communications with a court.
Powers and Duties of Personal representatives During the Probate Process
The majority of the probate process occurs after a personal representative receives their letters testamentary. This personal representative can take temporary control over the assets of the estate and open bank accounts to hold estate funds.
The personal representative takes on two main role during probate. The first important obligation is to pay the decedent’s debts. These payments come out of the finances held in the estate. The second role is to distribute the remaining assets to the heirs named in the will.
While performing these roles, a personal representative must act only in the interests of the estate. For instance, a representative should perform an inventory of estate property and submit periodic updates regarding their actions. If a personal representative has questions about how to keep the probate process efficient and transparent, they should reach out to our dedicated lawyers in St. Charles County today.
Call Our Attorneys about The Probate Process in St. Charles County
Probate will determine the property rights of all heirs and presumptive heirs. Therefore, understanding the probate process in St. Charles County could help you to protect those rights. Adhering to the rules concerning the opening of probate, the submission of wills, and the duties of personal representatives can help the process go smoothly. In addition, understanding the powers of personal representatives could help all parties evaluate whether further legal action is necessary.
Talk with an attorney today to learn more the probate process and how to best handle it.