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Let Us Help You Through The Complex Probate Process

After a person has passed, their estate may go through the probate process. Because of the complex laws and procedural rules involved with probate matters, it is a good idea to retain an experienced probate and estate administration attorney for help with navigating the process.

If your loved one has named you as the executor of his or her estate, or you have been appointed to serve as the estate administrator after your loved one has passed away without a will, contact Rogers Sevastianos & Bante LLP. Getting experienced legal help from our St. Louis attorneys will make the process smoother and might help you avoid potentially costly errors down the road.

What Is Probate?

When a property owner passes away in Missouri or Illinois, the decedent’s estate may need to go through the probate process so that the court can supervise the transfer of property from the state to the heirs. This process is typically required when a person who owns property passes away, depending on the types of property that he or she owns. Some examples of property that may need to go through probate include the following:

  • Bank accounts that do not have a named co-owner or a payable-on-death designation.
  • Land and real property that is individually owned by the decedent.
  • Land and real property that is owned as tenants in common with someone else.
  • Stocks, bonds, ETFs and other securities that are owned in the decedent’s name.
  • Cars, trucks, boats and other similar types of property that are in the decedent’s name alone and that do not have a transfer-on-death designation on the title.
  • Other tangible items of personal property such as household furniture, jewelry, livestock and others.

Some types of property can be passed directly to the beneficiaries without having to go through the probate process. These types of property include the following:

  • Homes held in revocable trusts
  • Life insurance proceeds with named beneficiaries
  • Retirement accounts with named beneficiaries
  • Vehicles with transfer-on-death provisions
  • Homes held as joint tenants with a right of survivorship or as tenancy by the entirety
  • Bank accounts with payable-on-death designations

Types Of Probate Administration In Missouri

There are three different types of probate processes that you should know about. The type of probate that your loved one’s estate might have to go through will depend on its size and whether your loved one requested an independent administration in his or her will.

  • Small estates – If the estate is valued at less than $40,000, a distributee can request a small estate certificate within 30 days of the decedent’s death. He or she must file an affidavit in which he or she promises to use the assets of the estate to pay any debts and to distribute the assets according to the will or the state’s intestacy laws.
  • Supervised probate – This is a formal process through which an estate that is valued at $40,000 or more is closely monitored by the court. This process is very complex and requires annual settlement statements, inventories of assets and other actions to be taken.
  • Independent administration – This is a less formal process that may be undertaken when a decedent requests this type of probate process in his or her will.

Dying With A Will Vs. Without A Will

When someone passes away with a will and with property, the executor who is named in the will must open a probate case in the court and file the will to be validated. The interested parties must be notified. People may object to the validity of the will, which is called a will contest. However, courts normally presume that wills are valid unless there is evidence of duress, coercion, a later will, incompetence or other problems.

After a will is validated, the executor will then be required to inventory the assets of the estate, notify the creditors, pay the debts out of the estate proceeds, pay taxes and file annual statements with the court. The estate proceeds must be passed to the beneficiaries as designated in the will, but they will not receive the assets until after the estate’s debts, legal expenses and taxes have been paid.

When someone passes away without a will, they are said to have died intestate. The state’s intestacy laws will apply to the distribution of property. After a probate case is opened with the court, the court will appoint someone to serve as the estate’s administrator. He or she will then have to inventory the assets, notify the creditors and potential heirs, pay any debts, file statements with the court, and pay the taxes before distributing the proceeds to the heirs. Property in an intestate estate must be passed according to the intestacy laws.

Get Help With Probate Administration In St. Louis

The probate process can be difficult, and it is a good idea for you to get experienced help from a probate and estate planning lawyer. Contact the attorneys at Rogers Sevastianos & Bante LLP to schedule a consultation or call (314) 354-8484 to get started.