WHY A WILL SHOULD ALWAYS BE FILED WITH THE COURT
The loss of a loved one can be the most difficult time for the person’s family. In addition to the often overwhelming grief and grieving process, the family must take care of things like funeral arrangements, closing accounts, completing life insurance claims and dealing with an estate lawyer Maryland Heights.
During this difficult time, however, eventually the survivors of the deceased should always file the will in court, regardless if there are any assets that must be dealt with by a probate lawyer.
Here’s are four reasons a last will and testament Missouri should always be filed after a person passes away:
- UNDER MISSOURI LAW A WILL IS ONLY GOOD FOR ONE YEAR.
As a practical matter, there are often circumstances when one person passes away where their spouse or children may not be able to deal with the estate right away. Maybe the surviving spouse has serious health problems. Maybe surviving children live out of the country. There are numerous reasons why that one (1) year deadline might pass without the will being filed.
But, here’s the problem: If the will is not filed in time, the will is invalid and Missouri intestacy laws control. That can lead to a different set of people inheriting, which can be a huge problem.
- THE WILL FILING PROCESS IS EASY AND INEXPENSIVE.
An estate lawyer near me can file the original will of the decedent in the proper county circuit court inexpensively and without much cost for the filing. Even if assets are found several years later, the filing of the will within a year after death is a safe harbor, i.e. the original will still controls who gets what, not Missouri law. There’s just no reason not to file the will.
- ASSETS ARE LATER DISCOVERED.
A few years ago I had a client whose husband had passed away. The death was sudden and unexpected. To his wife’s surprise, just over a year after he died, his employer called and notified her that they had overlooked the fact that he had unpaid vacation days which were entitled to be paid out to his estate. The value of the assets was about $10,000 or so.
Because we had filed his will a month or so after he died, we were able to resolve that without much trouble, even though at that time we believed everything was owned by their joint trust. This is a good example of why filing the will is always the best practice.
- SOMEONE MAY NEED TO BE NAMED PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE TO PURSUE A LAWSUIT.
A more common example of why filing the will is important is because the death may require a lawsuit which would require the personal representative named in the will to file the lawsuit on behalf of the estate. Without the will filing, this process may require additional filings. Additionally, as the will would control who the beneficiaries of the lawsuit proceeds belong to (if there are any), any proceeds would go to the person the decedent wanted to have those funds.
- FILING THE LAST WILL CAN AVOID FIGHTS OVER PERSONAL PROPERTY.
Wills often include provisions that state that certain personal property should go to certain people. Often this personal property has high monetary value. It can often also have tremendous sentimental value. If the will says “my Picasso painting to my wife”. If there was no will, or it wasn’t timely filed within a year after death, the Picasso would belong to the wife and any joint children or stepchildren. That’s quite a different outcome. Don’t leave things to chance. File the will and know that doing so is best approach.
As mentioned earlier, will filings are cheap to file and cheap to hire a lawyer to do.
Legacy Law Center is located at 4215 S. Old Highway 94 in St. Charles, Missouri. We are right next to the DMV in Harvester. We assist clients to establish estate plans, including wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also assist clients with trust and probate administrations.
Call us today for a free consultation at (636) 486-2669.