When it comes to planning for the future, no time is better than the present. Death is one of life's few certainties, and when the time comes, it's important to have a plan in place to make sure your wishes are carried out. Whether you're single or married with children, setting up an estate plan can help ensure that every last detail is taken care of when you're gone. That's why I've been working with clients across Jackson County and western Missouri to help them prepare for the future with estate plans that fit their unique needs. Having a professional working for you that understands the various laws surrounding estate taxes, wills, probate, and trusts can help tremendously when the time comes to handle your estate.
If you don't set up a will or estate plan, then your estate could be subjected to the process of probate. Probate is the legal process that occurs after a person dies without a valid will. Typically, if a person has a valid will, then their property will be distributed according to the terms stipulated by the will. If no valid will exists, then Missouri probate laws will dictate how the decedent's assets will be distributed. Probate may not always be required, as it will often depend on what assets are in the estate of the deceased at the time of death.
What happens during the probate process?
In the state of Missouri, probate cases are handled by the local county circuit court's probate division. The process of administering the estate can vary depending on the details of the deceased individual's estate. For example, if the decedent's estate is small enough, Missouri probate laws may allow you to skip probate altogether and use a simplified process. If not, you'll likely be required to go through the probate process in court. Generally speaking, small estates are defined as an estate of $40,000 or less.