Probate is the legal process of administering a person’s estate after they have passed away. In Missouri, probate can be a complicated and time-consuming process, but it’s an essential step for ensuring that the decedent’s assets are properly distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries. If you’re in the process of settling an estate or are planning your own estate, here’s what you need to know about probate in Missouri.
Probate is Necessary in Many Cases
In Missouri, probate is necessary in most cases when a person passes away and their estate has assets that need to be distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries. Assets that are subject to probate include real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property. If the decedent had a valid will, the will determines who receives the assets. If there is no will, Missouri law determines who receives the assets.
The Probate Process
The probate process in Missouri involves several steps. The first step is to file a petition with the probate court. The court will appoint a personal representative who is responsible for administering the estate. The personal representative will inventory the assets of the estate, pay any outstanding debts or taxes, and distribute the assets to the heirs or beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or state law.
Small Estate Administration
If the estate has a total value of less than $40,000, it may qualify for a simplified probate process known as small estate administration. In this case, the personal representative can distribute the assets without court supervision.
Many people want to avoid probate to save time and money. One way to do this is to establish a living trust. With a living trust, the assets are transferred to the trust, and the trust becomes the owner of the assets. When the trust creator passes away, the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries without going through probate.
Another way to avoid probate is to make sure that all assets have designated beneficiaries or are owned jointly with right of survivorship. Assets with designated beneficiaries or joint ownership pass directly to the beneficiaries without going through probate.
Seeking Legal Advice
If you’re settling an estate or planning your own estate, it’s important to seek the advice of a probate lawyer. An experienced probate attorney can guide you through the process, help you avoid common mistakes, and ensure that the estate is distributed according to your wishes.
In conclusion, probate is an essential step in settling an estate in Missouri. The process can be complicated, but with the help of a knowledgeable probate attorney, you can ensure that the estate is distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to create an estate plan. With a comprehensive estate plan, you can ensure that your legacy is preserved, and your tax liability minimized. Contact Polaris Estate Planning & Elder Law today to get started or register for our next workshop!