You may be wondering if it’s time to talk with a probate attorney serving O’Fallon, MO. Have you recently lost someone and would like legal help with the process of distributing their assets and resolving debts? Are you concerned about your heir’s future, and would like to begin the estate planning process which could involve the creation of a will or trust? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions, it is a good idea to talk to a trusted probate attorney at the Legacy Law Center in O’Fallon, MO.
Probate is the process which involves having to prove the validity of a deceased person’s will, and overseeing and administering the will according to the terms. Upon the drafting of the will, the decedent would have designated someone to administer the will. This person is called the executor. It is the duty of the executor to:
- Make an inventory of the decedent’s assets
- Value and sell (if necessary) the assets
- Pay debts and taxes
- Transfer any remaining assets to the beneficiaries
When an estate only has a will, the beneficiaries are required, by law, to go through the probate process. In general this process is overseen by the circuit court where the decedent lived at the time of his or her death. The process can be straightforward or very complex, and it can be useful to have a probate attorney in O’Fallon, Missouri oversee everything.
Because of how extensive and complicated the process can be, and because lawyer and court fees often come out of the estate’s funds, many people wonder if they can avoid probate altogether. It is possible in some situations, though only with planning ahead. If you ask a probate attorney O’Fallon, MO trusts, you will find that the three main ways in which people try to avoid probate include:
- Creating a living trust
- Naming beneficiaries for retirement plans, investments, and bank accounts
- Having joint ownership of property with a spouse or partner
If your loved one has already selected one of these routes, whether or not for the purpose of avoiding probate, probate may be avoidable. Ultimately, it is often in your best interest to work with an experienced probate attorney in O’Fallon, MO with whom you can consult about this matter. They can ensure that all legal obligations are met.
Probate Law FAQ: What are the easiest ways to avoid probate?
Did you know that probate is easy to avoid? It’s true, yet so many people don’t realize this and prepare to go through the process – challenges and all! As a probate attorney O’Fallon, MO residents trust, we talk with clients everyday about how they can keep their heirs from having to go through this time consuming, often costly, process. What may work for you largely depends on your assets, how they are titled, and who you would like to inherit your estate.
The Easiest Ways to Avoid Probate
Get Rid of Your Assets
This is considered to be the most extreme but one of the easiest ways to avoid probate. An estate without property is an estate that cannot, or will not need to, be probated. The practicality of this may depend on your lifestyle and needs. For example, you will likely not want to give away all of your money before you die. That being said, there are special trusts that allow you to give most of your assets away. Using this trust in addition to other techniques may help you to avoid probate.
Use Joint Ownership
It is possible to add a joint owner to bank accounts, investment accounts, deeds, and other property. If these assets are jointly owned with the rights of survivorship, they won’t go through probate. For example, if you are married and you and your spouse are named on the deed of your house, once one of you dies, the other will automatically inherit the house. As a lawyer might explain, there are some drawbacks to relying on this method. These include:
- Usually adding a joint owner to an account, title, deed, or property will need to be reported to the IRS as it may be a taxable gift.
- If the joint owner divorces or is sued, a creditor or spouse may be able to pursue this asset.
- If the joint owner dies before you, between 50 and 100 percent of the joint account could taxed.
If your assets are left to your spouse by right of survivorship, they will have the right to do whatever the wish with them. If you are concerned about this, or would prefer some of these assets to be given to your children, you might want to reconsider your options.
Use Beneficiary Designations
If you have life insurance, retirement accounts, annuities, or other financial accounts, you can designate a beneficiary. This also includes “payable on death” bank accounts and non-retirement investment accounts.
Draft a Trust
A revocable living trust is a good option that covers three different phases of your life: when you are alive, if you become incapacitated, and after your death. Any assets you don’t want to go through probate can be placed in the trust with the help of your probate attorney in O’Fallon, MO. Your named heirs will then receive the assets included in the trust. Anything that is not included in the trust, or associated with the above techniques, may be probated.
It may be possible for certain assets to bypass probate and go immediately to the beneficiaries. These may include:
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement accounts
- Jointly owned bank accounts
- Jointly owned real estate
- Death pay bank accounts
- Assets held in a trust
Although every state has its own rules for the probate process, typically when there exists assets worth between $50,000 and $100,000 or more, the will must go through the probate process. Estates worth less than $50,000 may be granted an expedited probate process which is slightly different from the standard procedure.
An O’Fallon, MO probate attorney at Legacy Law Center can assist executors with the probate process and all other phases of estate administration. If you would like to find out more, please call us today.
Why Consider Retaining a Missouri Probate Lawyer
If you have been named the executor of an estate, there is a good chances that the decedent trusted your character and judgement. Even though you can handle the probate process on your own, it may be wise to retain a probate attorney for O’Fallon, MO.
The process includes numerous steps that must be completed in a timely manner. One error can delay the process and even lead to legal challenges, especially from heirs or someone who believes they were left out of the will.
For decades, our probate attorneys in O’Fallon, MO have been helping clients with the probate process. When you turn to us for guidance, you can feel peace of mind in knowing that we will:
- File any important documentation
- Handle the court procedures
- Make an inventory of the assets
- Notify beneficiaries
- Notify creditors
- Pay off debts
- Respond to any legal challenges
- + More
If you were named the executor of a will and need help to carry out the deceased wishes, or if no will was left, our probate lawyers can assist you in navigating the process. Call Legacy Law Center or email us to schedule a free consultation with a probate attorney in O’Fallon, MO today!
Being involved in the estate planning process could possibly mean needing a probate attorney O’Fallon, MO clients trust. Probate administration may include the necessity to prove the validity of your loved one’s will in court. It includes a number of involved steps including court appearances and paperwork. It is often beneficial to speak with an O’Fallon probate attorney in order to fully understand the process and what is necessary for a successful outcome.
Understanding the Probate Process
A skilled probate attorney O’Fallon, MO seeks during estate planning can explain the basics of probate. The steps involved in probate administration usually include the following:
- Identification and inventory of your loved one’s property.
- Appraisal of that property.
- Payment of associated taxes and debts.
- Distribution per the will’s direction.
The executor of the estate is the person responsible for carrying out probate administration. If you are the executor, you must identify, secure, and manage the assets of your loved one. You may also have to decide what to do with your loved one’s property depending on what the will states. If you’re working with a capable probate attorney O’Fallon, MO residents rely on, they may tell you that this can be a prolonged process. In fact, it can take anywhere from six months to one year to complete.
In many states, your loved one’s immediate family can request that short-term support funds be released while the probate process is occurring. Eventually, the court will allow the executor to pay debts and taxes and then divide the balance among those named in your loved one’s will. After that, the property can be disbursed to the heirs.
What works for you will depend on the size of your estate, your assets, your heirs, and other factors. Before you determine what is right for you, a lawyer should be consulted.
Contact an Attorney
Whether you’re anticipating having to go through the probate process, or if you are already in the midst of dealing with it after your loved one’s passing, you may have more peace of mind if you contact an attorney to guide you. At Legacy Law Center, we are well-versed in the areas of probate and estate planning, and can help you navigate its complexities. To speak with a probate attorney O’Fallon, MO clients know they can rely upon, call us today!