MISSOURI PROBATE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
There are several ways that you may become involved in the probate of a Missouri estate. As a probate lawyer St. Peters, I am familiar with all of those ways and this article explains what you need to know about Missouri probate.
You may have been appointed the Executor of an estate by the decedent, you may be named as beneficiary or heir of an estate, or you may volunteer to be the Personal Representative of an estate because the decedent died intestate, or without executing a last will and testament.
Having some basic knowledge about the probate process can be beneficial if you ever find yourself in one of these situations, and also when it comes to planning your own estate. Here are a few things to keep in mind when going through the probate process.
The probate process will take a minimum of six months. Creditors have six months to file a claim against an estate, which the Executor/PR will then need to review to approve or deny. Therefore, probating any estate will require at least six months.
In addition, any gift and estate taxes that are due must be paid before any assets can be distributed from the estate and before the probate of the estate can be closed.
Simplified probate process. When the estate of a decedent is valued below $40,000, there is an alternate process that may be taken to avoid the full probate process.
This involves a distributee, or “affiant”, obtaining a small estate certificate 30 days after death. The affiant must then file an affidavit to assure the decedents assets will be used to pay off debts and all property will be distributed according to law.
Probate does not include all assets. As an Executor or Personal Representative, one of the first requirements is to identify all estate assets and determine which assets are required to be part of the probate process. Many assets are non-probate assets, including.
- Any assets that are held in a trust
- Some assets that are held as joint property
- Assets that have a designated “Payable on Death (POD)” or Transfer on death (TOD)”
- Funds held in certain retirement funds
- Any proceeds from a life insurance policy
A surviving spouse can “take against the estate”. In the case of an intestate estate, a surviving spouse is entitled to receive one-half of the decedents’ estate.
If the decedent is survived by any children and the surviving spouse is also a parent to those children then the spouse would receive an additional $20,000. The spouse is also entitled to other statutory allowances and certain exempt property.
If the decedent leaves a Will that entitles the spouse to less than the spousal share then the spouse can choose to “take against the estate”.
The surviving spouse will then be able to receive the statutory share rather than the Will designations. In the state of Missouri, there must be a contractual agreement prior to the decedent’s death in order to completely disinherit a spouse, such as a prenuptial agreement that state the spouse is to receive nothing.