Contrary to the misconception that the probate process always drags on for years, the reality is that many estates conclude probate within a year. In Missouri, there is a mandatory waiting period of six months, known as the creditor claim period. This period allows creditors to submit claims after the posting of a probate notice.
The responsibility falls on the estate’s personal representative to notify creditors, either through publication in a local newspaper or by mail. Once the waiting period elapses, the personal representative undertakes the tasks of asset compilation, debt and tax payments, and asset distribution to designated beneficiaries.
While protracted probate cases exist in Missouri, they typically involve unique circumstances. Factors contributing to prolonged probate include family disputes, sizable estates subject to federal or state estate tax, or estates generating ongoing income. For example, an estate featuring diverse assets and numerous creditors seeking payment will naturally require more time for administration than a smaller estate devoid of creditors.
Delays can also be caused by someone contesting a will admitted to probate. This can include scenarios where a close family member of the deceased is oddly omitted in the will, a beneficiary is unexpectedly removed close to the time of the decedent’s passing, medical evidence indicates the testator drafted a will while lacking capacity, or suspicions arise that a beneficiary tampered with or coerced the testator into altering the will.
Whether a probate takes months or years can depend on whether you find the right attorney. Our probate attorneys will help you throughout the probate process. For further insights and assistance in navigating the probate process, reach out to our office for a Probate Advisory meeting.