Typically our clients want to avoid Probate Court. Yet, if probate cannot be avoided, here are the steps that you have to go through during a normal Probate case in the state of Missouri.
Note, this is for a “normal” case, yet please keep in mind that each case is different. For example, if the estate is less than $40,000, a Small Estate may be used. If the estate is less than $15,000, a Small Estate may be used and the publication requirement is waived. The smart move if you’re not sure what to do is to contact an experienced attorney who handles probate.
what is probate COURT?
Probate Court is a court with jurisdiction over (1) determination of the validity of Wills and (2) administration of estates and (3) matters involving adults judged to be incompetent.
The order of events in Probate Court
- PETITION. A petition is filed with the proper Missouri probate court (normally the County where the deceased lived or where the real estate is located). For example, a resident of Jackson, Missouri would file the Petition in Cape Girardeau County. The Probate Court for Cape Girardeau County is located in the Common Pleas Courthouse.
- NOTICE. Notice is given to heirs under the Will or, if no will exists, to statutory heirs.
- EXECUTOR. A Petition is filed to appoint executor (in the case of a Will) or administrator for the estate. You may also hear this person referred to as the deceased’s “Personal Representative”.
- INVENTORY. The executor or administrator performs an inventory and appraisal of the estate assets.
- PAY DEBTS. Payment of estate debt is made to rightful creditors.
- SELL PROPERTY. Estate assets are sold.
- PAY FEES. Fees include attorney fees, court costs, and estate taxes (if applicable).
- MAKE DISTRIBUTION. After all expenses are paid, the final distribution of assets is made to heirs.