Probate Lawyer St. Charles, MO

Probate Lawyer St. Charles, MO Probate Lawyer St. Charles, MO

A probate lawyer St. Charles, MO families recommend can help you develop a clear estate plan and last will & testament. This is critical to ensuring that your final wishes are carried out, and conflict amongst your heirs is mitigated down the road. Probate lawyers have a vast amount of knowledge about estate planning and probate law. Probate is often a feared process, and because of this, you may be left feeling overwhelmed. We know that you have questions; Legacy Law Firm wants to provide you with the answers to the number of questions you may have.

What is probate?

When someone passes away, the will must be validated or “proved” through the judicial process of probate. Whether someone has a will in place or has passed away without a will, be aware that all wills must endure the probate process. While probate is often feared by many, in most cases, this doesn’t have to be the case, especially with the guidance of a probate lawyer. Estate planning with a lawyer offers advantages that help your heirs retain as much of their inheritance as possible. This can occur with living trusts, tax requirements, and more. While this may be overwhelming, we can help. 

Is it possible for a will to avoid passing through probate?

Most of the time, a will does have to pass through probate. However, there are ways to protect many of your assets from the probate process with the guidance of our St. Charles, MO probate lawyer. With careful planning, some assets can be placed in a trust that may circumvent probate. Other accounts such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies will not be required to pass through probate, but you will want to make sure that beneficiaries are named on the accounts to ensure that they are passed on. 

Why would someone contest a will?

Once an estate plan has been developed, it’s recommended that you speak with your loved ones to provide them with a clear understanding of your final wishes. It will also be important that anyone who has been disinherited is made aware of your wishes before the time comes. This can help to reduce the likelihood of a problem during the probate process. It’s important to know that four key elements must be present to contest a will:

  1. Testamentary Capacity
  2. Undue Influence
  3. Lack of Witnesses
  4. Sworn Statement

Is the probate process expensive? If so, why?

Yes, without the proper planning in place, the probate process can become incredibly expensive. The estate will be required to pay taxes and any outstanding debts. In addition, legal fees, court fees, and executor fees can quickly add up. The legal process can be drawn out, causing more extensive costs if someone contests the will in probate. 

Probate doesn’t have to be the feared process that it is often made out to be. With the guidance of Legacy Law Center, our lawyers can help you develop a will that mitigates complications that could arise in probate. Additionally, our team can help manage the probate process if you are an executor or family member charged with resolving your loved one’s estate. To get started, contact our St. Charles, Missouri probate lawyer today. 

Tips for an Executor Managing Probate

As the appointed executor of a decedent’s estate, our probate lawyer St. Charles, MO families recommend knows this can be a significant undertaking. When someone passes away, in many cases, they have left behind a will that appoints someone to take on the role of executor of the estate. Executors are responsible for protecting assets, resolving the estate, and ensuring that inheritance is distributed to beneficiaries. Because this is such a critical role, hopefully, the person who passed has asked if you would be willing to take on the executor role. Be aware that if you are unable to fulfill your role, you can refuse. Should this occur, the alternate executor named in the will (if there is one) can step in or, the court may appoint a new executor. For complicated estates, executors may consider the guidance of a lawyer, especially when managing probate. Legacy Law Center has provided some tips to keep in mind when managing the probate process:

Tip #1 Determine Whether You Need a Lawyer

While a lawyer isn’t required during the probate process, it may be in your best interest to consider their services. For more complicated estates, the act of settling someone’s estate may feel like a significant task. In some cases, you may find that a probate lawyer isn’t necessary. However, in others, you may turn to them for help in managing the legal process as they will be able to review the will and provide guidance as to which assets will need to pass through probate. For larger estates with significant real estate and assets, or with families who are beginning to experience conflict, contacting the services of a St. Charles, Missouri probate lawyer may be in your best interest. 

Tip #2 Gather All Necessary Documentation

To initiate the process as quickly as possible, it will be critical for you to gather all of the necessary documents for probate. Typically before you can do anything, you will first need to obtain the death certificate. Banks and financial institutions will likely require these before moving forward, so it’s important to order more copies than you think you will need. Other key documentation includes last will and testament, living trust documents, life insurance policies, federal and state income tax returns, loan agreements, and more. 

Tip #3 Protect Assets

While it’s always helpful to have a list of all assets, you will need to take the time to locate them. Once you have found the documents that outline this information, you will want to make sure that the family does not begin to take assets (including family heirlooms) just yet. You will want to ensure that all estate debts and taxes are paid first. Be aware that if you distribute assets too soon, as the executor, you could be responsible for covering the estate’s debts. 

Probate Infographic

Tips For An Executor Managing Probate InfographicWhat If Someone Dies Without a Will?

When someone dies without a will, it is called intestate. Intestate is derived from the Latin root word which means no testimony. If a person has died without a will, there are specific procedures that have to be followed according to the laws of intestate in Missouri. 

Some people believe that by not creating a will, there will be no say in how assets are distributed once you pass. This is not exactly true. If you have not created a will, and you pass away, you allow the government to decide how your assets are to be distributed. These decisions are made according to the laws of intestate. The process can be extremely time consuming, and for some discouraging. Having a probate lawyer St. Charles, MO residents trust is highly recommended. 

Filing the Death Certificate

After a person dies, a death certificate must be filed. As soon as it is received by the next of kin, they have a legal obligation to file it with the probate court. 

  • The surviving spouse will likely be the appropriate person to file the death certificate.
  • When there is no surviving spouse, the children will have this duty.
  • If there are not surviving children or a spouse, the duty will fall to the deceased’s parents. 
  • When none of the above parties are living, the grandparents will have the obligation of filing the death certificate. 
  • If the grandparents, parents, spouse, and children are no longer alive, the applicable next of kin (lineal descendants), according to the law will retain this duty. 
  • In the event there are absolutely no lineal descendants, stepchildren may be the applicable filing parties. 
  • When the deceased has no descendants or step-children, the state could inherit the estate (known as escheats). This is relatively rare. 

Filing the Death Certificate in Probate Court

The death certificate should only be filed one time. If there is a living spouse and children, only one person should file it with the probate court. Once this is done, the next step should be to hire a probate lawyer in St. Charles, Missouri or acquire, complete, and file the necessary forms from the court.

A Surety Bond is Required

If there is no will, the Missouri probate court will likely require a bond to be filed. This is like an insurance policy that ensures the administrator will distribute the assets according to the laws of the intestate. It should be noted the administrator will be named by a judge. 

Filing with the Intestate Court

Before the estate can be administered, and assets divided, the death must be filed with the intestate court. The filing process will include:

  • Filing the death certificate
  • Asking the court to appoint an administrator
  • Identifying and locating all next of kin
  • Proving a surety bond has been posted
  • Any other documents required by the probate court

As soon as the case has been filed, it will move through the probate court as if a will existed. The differences might be when it comes to making sure certain assets can be sold. Another difference will be how assets are to be divided. In general, assets are divided amongst all beneficiaries, according to the laws rather than what your wishes might have been. In other words, if you want your son to inherit your classic car, but you did not have a will to state this, your son might not receive the car. Even if the son insists you spoke about this, it will come down to the decision of a judge. As you might see, this can cause a lot of frustration amongst beneficiaries. If handled improperly, it is possible for a dispute to occur. 

Matters pertaining to estate planning and probate can be complicated, and Legacy Law Center is dedicated to helping our clients manage the process. Probate is a process often feared by many, but it doesn’t have to be, especially when the proper steps are taken to develop an estate plan. Whether you are planning your estate or an executor in need of guidance, our firm is prepared to help you. Please get started by contacting our probate lawyer in St. Charles, Missouri. 

Probate Lawyer St. Charles, Missouri

Many Americans understandably think that if they have written a will that the contents of that document will be honored without any legal interference. While it is true that it’s undeniably important to have a will in place, this document’s existence alone is not always “enough” to avoid legal oversight of its contents. There is a legal process called “probate” that allows the legal system to prove the validity of a will’s contents. Some states require that virtually all wills go through probate, while others only insist on probate for those wills that have questionable contents. All estates of deceased individuals who passed away without wills in place are subject to probate.

This is a lot of information to take in at once. Therefore, it’s important to know that you can connect with a probate lawyer St. Charles, Missouri residents trust at any time that you have questions about probate. With that said, it can be helpful to run down the major considerations involved in the initiation of the probate process, one by one. No two cases are exactly alike, which is one of the reasons why it’s important to speak with a St. Charles, Missouri probate lawyer if you have questions instead of making assumptions. However, grounding yourself in the basics may help to inform the questions that you ask of an attorney during the consultation process.

Probate Considerations

If you pass away without a legally enforceable will in place, your estate will be subject to probate. This is a potentially stressful and potentially costly process best avoided, when possible. Our St. Charles, Missouri probate lawyer team can help you draft a will so that your family can, if possible, avoid a lengthy probate process after your passing.

If you pass away and your will has not been recently updated or does not seem to reflect your loved one’s interpretations of your wishes, your estate could be subject to probate. Probate will allow the court to determine if your will is accurate. But updating your will regularly, your family can avoid a lengthy probate process after you pass away.

If you question the authenticity of a loved one’s will or your loved one has died without a will, their estate may be subject to probate. Our team can help you navigate the ins and outs of this process.

The Role of an Executor

When a person is appointed as an executor, they carry the great responsibility of resolving the estate of a decedent in the way they would have wanted to. During the estate planning process, the decedent is responsible for outlining their wishes and appointing an executor who will oversee the process of carrying out these wishes and resolving the estate. This is a great responsibility, and before taking on this role, it will be critical for executors to carefully consider the magnitude of the role they are taking on. Our St. Charles, Missouri probate lawyer shares that an executor will be responsible for:

  • Filing the will with the probate court
  • Notifying credit card companies and financial institutions
  • Representing the estate during probate
  • Providing a detailed inventory of assets to the court
  • Setting up a bank account for the estate
  • Making sure all debts are settled
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries

In many situations, identified executors have minimal experience managing the estate of someone who has passed away. This can leave an executor feeling confused over what steps to take when resolving an estate, which is why it may be in your best interest to consider assistance from an experienced lawyer. 

Common Mistakes Executors Make During Probate

It should come as no surprise that many executors are never truly prepared for the role they have committed to. As a result, it’s only natural that mistakes might be made during the probate process, including: 

#1. Not having a clear understanding of your role

#2. Waiting to take action

#3. Not understanding your responsibilities

#4. Distributing assets too early

#5. Mismanaging real estate property

#6. Failing or delaying in consulting with a lawyer

Taking on the role of executor can feel like a significant undertaking. Estate executors have the great responsibility of carrying out a decedent’s wishes in the way they would have wanted. Start by reaching out to a probate lawyer for the assistance you need during what might be an incredibly complicated process. 

Legacy Law Center has the goal of providing those managing estate planning and probate with legal support. Our team can assist you during an incredibly intense time. We are committed to helping executors manage the complications that can come with probate. Start today by contacting our St. Charles, Missouri probate lawyer for assistance. 

Legal Assistance Is Available

If you would like to better ensure that your own estate avoids a lengthy probate or you need assistance with a loved one’s estate that must be subjected to probate, please contact the St. Charles, Missouri probate lawyer team at Legacy Law Center today. Regardless of whether you’re trying to avoid probate or you’re already in the middle of a contentious probate process, our team can provide you with the guidance and support you need. Probate can be a relatively straightforward process and it can be an undeniably complex affair. Whether your situation is simple or mind-boggling, the St. Charles, Missouri probate lawyer team at our firm can help. We look forward to learning more about your situation and to being of service to you and your family at this time. 




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