A Guide to Probate and Estate Planning in Missouri

Your Key Questions Answered.

Probate and Estate Planning FAQ

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process following someone’s death that validates their will: identifying assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries or heirs per the will or state law if no will exists. Legal support, like you would find at Axis Law Group, is crucial so you have the space and time to grieve the loss of a loved one while a professional guides you through the complicated probate process.

Do all estates have to go through probate?

In Missouri, when a valid will exists naming an heir, property is distributed according to the valid will. However, if there is not a valid will, or if there is not an heir named for the property, then Missouri’s probate law dictates how the decedent’s assets are distributed. Even then, the need for probate depends on what assets are in the estate. Missouri only has two forms of probate, supervised and independent. If you are unsure what type of probate—if any—applies to your situation, schedule a quick chat with an expert here at Axis Law Group.

How long does probate take?

The duration of probate varies based on estate size, complexity, and any disputes. Typically, it takes a few months to open the estate. Under Missouri law, creditors have six months to file a claim against the state. Then, it usually takes another few months to close the estate. This means that probate lasts for a year or more in Missouri. Additionally, it can be drawn out much longer if the family can’t agree. Many people say that being assigned as the personal representative is similar to taking on a second full-time job. Hiring a probate attorney from Axis Law Group will not only educate and guide you through the process, but also ensure the process goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.

What assets are subject to probate?

Assets subject to probate are solely owned by the deceased without designated beneficiaries or joint owners. In Missouri, that includes real estate, bank accounts, stocks or bonds, vehicles, and personal belongings that have a total combined value of $40,000 or more. Non-probate assets include anything with listed beneficiaries (i.e. bank accounts, retirement accounts, or life insurance), or assets owned jointly.

How much does probate cost?

Probate costs vary based on estate size, complexity, attorney, court, and executor fees. A professional from Axis Law Group can help you estimate the cost and time involved in your probate case. Missouri allows for compensation by statute; the range is two to five percent of the overall estate value. Bond premiums, costs of publication, and court fees must also be paid. Costs can go even higher if the situation is contested.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning arranges asset management and distribution in case of death or incapacitation. It includes creating legal documents like wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance directives. In less legal terms, it’s a way to protect your family, and ensure that your wishes regarding your assets are executed. At Axis Law Group, your family is our top priority.

Why is estate planning important?

Estate planning is crucial for controlling asset distribution, minimizing taxes, caring for dependents, appointing a manager in incapacity, and avoiding family conflicts. Did you know that in Colorado, that even if you have a will, your estate could still go into probate? Axis Law Group can help you detail an estate plan that covers contingencies often overlooked when preparing these documents without legal counsel, saving your loved ones from going through the lengthy probate process.

Do I need an estate planning attorney?

Though basic estate planning can be done online, consulting an experienced attorney like those at Axis Law Group will remove the guesswork and guide you through the process. We offer personalized advice, ensure legal compliance, and help you navigate complex issues like taxes and asset protection. Read more about our experienced attorneys here.

What documents do I need for estate planning?

Essential estate planning documents include a will, outlining asset distribution after death, and a durable power of attorney, managing financial affairs if incapacitated. Other needed documents may include trusts, advance healthcare directives, and beneficiary designations.

When should I start estate planning?

Start estate planning early in your life for your peace of mind, knowing your loved ones are protected. Any time you have a major life change like marriage, births, financial shifts, or health changes, you should take the time to review your estate plan. Axis Law Group also offers a maintenance plan so you can easily make updates and ask us questions whenever you need to.

Are You Ready to Protect Your Family and Your Estate?