What Everyone Ought to Know About a Missouri Affidavit of Heirship

It’s common for individuals who own real estate to procrastinate estate planning. Too frequently, individuals procrastinate too long and end up passing away with no plan in place for their real estate. The result: legal confusion.

One family comes to mind. The wife had real estate that was only in her name. When she passed away, her husband desired to continue living on the property, but he ran into issues with his step-children who wanted to sell the property and collect a nice check for their share. The dispute escalated, lawyers were hired, and filings were made with the probate court. This was going to turn into an expensive, time-consuming, and messing legal fight.

Yet, there was an alternative to probate that none of the heirs knew about called an Affidavit of Heirship. A Missouri Affidavit of Heirship can be used to transfer property from a deceased individual to that individual’s heirs (as defined by Missouri law), without going to probate court. In order to use a Missouri Affidavit of Heirship, all of the heirs will need to agree on how to divide the property. Missouri law is clear on intestate succession so typically the parties will agree to follow the letter of the law.

If you have questions about how to handle real estate that is still titled into a deceased person’s name, after their own death, follow this checklist to see if an Affidavit or Heirship is right for you. Missouri Affidavit of Heirships can be powerful tools to avoid having property stuck in the name of a deceased loved one.

  • 1. Was the real estate only in the name of the deceased individual?
  • 2. Has the deceased individual been dead more than 1 year?
  • 3. No will has been admitted to probate?
  • 4. Did the deceased individual leave a last will and testament?
  • 5. All of the legal heirs are in agreement and willing to cooperate?

A Missouri Affidavit of Heirship needs to be properly drafted, signed, notarized and filed with the county recorder’s office. Once complete, the heirs can receive clear title on the land. This is important so if the heirs decide to sell the land, they can get full fair market value since the potential buyer can obtain title insurance.

If you have property title in a deceased individuals name and need help getting it transferred to living heirs or getting it sold, contact Mark McMullin, a Missouri attorney with experience you can trust.

A Simple Guide to How Probate Works in Missouri

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.