Probate is a court involved process that many individuals would rather avoid than be a part of. This can be achieved by utilizing proper estate planning techniques. However, for some individuals probate may still be needed. Probate occurs when there is no other individual (beneficiary) named on the decedent’s property.
The most common misconception seen at The Haggerty Law Firm is that a Last Will and Testament will avoid probate. This simply is not true. A Last Will and Testament is simply a mechanism for the probate court to follow should your property get to the courts. Therefore, it is important that you see a qualified estate planning attorney to assist you in the avoidance of probate in conjunction with your Last Will and Testament.
Probate can be commenced for both testate (with a will) and intestate (without a will) estates. There are different timelines for when an estate should be opened depending on the type of estate.
A probate estate can be opened by either decedent's family or a creditor.
Fees associated with probate typically include the filing fee, publication fee at the beginning at end of the probate process (unless waived), bond for the personal representative and attorney fees. The minimum attorney fee is set by statute in Missouri but can be higher at the discretion of the law firm.
In Missouri an attorney is the only individual who can open a probate estate. The three most popular types of probate proceedings seen at The Haggerty Law Firm are:
- Small Estate Affidavit: for estates that have less than $40,000 in assets. Typically will close in 3-4 months after initial opening of estate. Must be opened within one year from date of death of decedent.
- Full Probate Estate: for estate more than $40,000 in assets. Typically will close in 9-12 months after initial opening of estate. Must be opening within one year from date of death of decedent.
- Determination of Heirship: Estate opened after one year of death of decedent. Typically close within 3-4 month of initial opening of estate.