Ancillary Probate

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Own Property in Missouri? Get A Beneficiary Deed

Own Property in Missouri? Get A Beneficiary Deed


If you are a landowner / homeowner in Missouri, part of getting your affairs in order should include having a beneficiary deed drafted and recorded for your property.  Unlike a quitclaim deed or warranty deed which evidences your current ownership of property, a beneficiary deed is not a present transfer of ownership.  This type of deed merely states that when you pass away, if you own that property that it should pass to the beneficiaries you name in the beneficiary deed.

The biggest advantage of recording a beneficiary deed is that doing so will ensure that your property avoids probate when you pass away.  This is because the recording of one of these types of deeds is what is referred to as a non-probate transfer.   Considering that the costs of probate for a $300,000 home will probably be around $8,000 – $10,000, having a beneficiary deed drafted and recorded for roughly $250 (our fee at Legacy Law Center) is a terrific investment.

In a beneficiary deed, you are the grantor, the person granting the property to your beneficiary, who is the grantee.  If you have a living trust, your beneficiary might be your living trust rather than named individuals.  You will need to discuss this with the attorney that drafts the beneficiary deed for you, although in many cases our firm drafts beneficiary deeds as part of an estate plan that includes a living trust for a couple or an individual, so that discussion would be part of the larger discussion about all aspects of your estate plan.

The beneficiary deed is also an easy solution for those who live in one state but own property in Missouri.  We have drafted and recorded many beneficiary deeds for out of state clients who just wanted to ensure that their Missouri property will be protected when they are gone.

Beneficiary deeds are authorized specifically by Missouri law and Missouri is one of about twenty or so states in America that have them.  Keep in mind a few things about them, however.  First, unlike other deeds (such as a quitclaim deed) that can be recorded after your death, a beneficiary deed must be recorded before you pass away.  Another important thing to know is that a beneficiary deed can be revoked and a new beneficiary deed can be recorded in place of the old one.  So, for example, if you originally wanted to give your property to one of your children but changed your mind, you can record a new version granting the property to all of your children, so long as the document is recorded prior to your passing away.

A few other things to consider:  Whether you have a mortgage on the property or own it free and clear is irrelevant.  The beneficiary deed will not affect your ability to sell a property and if you do sell the property, the deed is obviously void.  Of course, if you sell one property and buy another, you’ll need to record a new document for the new property.

Here is the link to the statute authorizing beneficiary deeds:

What is an ancillary probate?

What is an ancillary probate?

Simplification du droit


An ancillary probate refers to a probate proceeding that is required in addition to a primary probate proceeding that will take place in your home state. Typically ancillary probate will be necessary because you own a piece of real estate that is located outside of your home state, although it could apply to tangible personal property such as a car, boat, or airplane, that is registered and titled outside of your home state, or livestock or oil, gas, or mineral rights that are attached to real estate located outside of your home state.

Like the original probate proceeding in the state in which you passed away, the ancillary probate proceeding is also costly, time consuming and complicated.  And just like the original probate proceeding, your goal should be to avoid it.  Here is how…

Let’s say Wilma is 80 years old and her husband William recently passed away.  Wilma lives in Missouri but she owns a second home with William in California.  Since the property is in both their names, once Williams passes, Wilma owns the second home all to herself.  All of the assets of the couple were jointly held, so William’s passing results in the same result, Wilma now owns everything and no probate is necessary.  Wilma has not done any estate planning, however.  If she wants to keep the California home, the best fit might be a living trust.  With the living trust, Wilma can ensure all of her assets in Missouri are owned by the trust and she can record a deed so that her trust owns the California property.  Since the trust owns the property, when Wilma dies there will be no need for an ancillary probate.

A living trust has many positive benefits for individuals and families, but as you can see, it can be especially helpful to people who own property in another state.