Probate (or Probate Administration) is the process of validating a Last Will and Testament. The person you choose as your will’s executor (now referred to as a personal representative) is responsible for making sure that your instructions are followed after your final expenses, claims, taxes, etc. have been dealt with properly. The process can involve filing documents like wills, and sometimes trusts, with the Probate Court to make sure the process follows the decedent’s wishes. After your death, your personal representative may also have to gather documentation proving the value of your assets, which must be filed with the Probate Court.
Whenever a person dies with assets titled in their name alone, a probate estate must be opened in their last county of residence in order for their assets to pass to their heirs or legatees. This is true whether or not the decedent (person who has died) had a will before they died. If there was a will in effect, the net assets will probably go to the beneficiaries mentioned in the will. If there is not a will, then the State of Missouri has a say in how the assets will be distributed.
In the majority of cases, proper estate planning beforehand can significantly reduce the involvement of the Probate Court after the decedent’s death.
If you'd like me to walk you through the probate process in more detail and help you identify what overlaps with your needs , call my office at 314-818-0344 to set up an appointment or fill out the contact form using the link below.