Probate is the process of transferring property from a deceased individual to living individuals. Sounds simple, right? Yet, it can quickly become complicated and expensive.
In Missouri, each county has a probate court that handles these transfers. However, probate takes time. The Missouri Bar advises that “the earliest that an estate may be closed and distribution made to the heirs or beneficiaries is approximately six months and 10 days after the date of first publication. However, it often takes a year or more to finish the administration.”
What happens during that time?
- 1. Hire an attorney to represent you. Make sure it is someone familiar with Missouri probate.
- 2. Apply for Letters (if there is a Will, the Letters are called “Letters Testamentary”; if there is no will, the Letters are called “Letters of Administration”)
- 3. Publish notice to creditors. This notice is important because it alerts creditors that an estate has been open and gives them information on how to submit any claims they may have.
- 4. Inventory and appraise assets.
- 5. Maintain estate property. Pay taxes, electric bills, insurance, etc.
- 6. Pay debts.
- 7. Keep careful records. You’ll need to prepare a “Settlement” showing where every dollar has gone.
- 8. Obtain court approval to distribute the reminder of the estate.
- 9. Close the estate.
If you are looking for a Missouri attorney to help you sort through probate, from opening an estate to getting funds distributed to the intended parties, we would be happy to help.