Probate is the legal process one's estate must go through after he or she dies. The probate process requires the attention and skill of an experienced estate planning lawyer as most people are not competent to execute a Will or probate an estate. Probate involves paperwork and court appearances. Fees for the estate planning attorney as well as court costs are paid out of the estate. The probate process has several functions, including:
- Proving the Will of a deceased person is valid;
- Identifying and inventorying the deceased person's property;
- Having the property appraised;
- Paying debts and taxes; and
- Distributing the remaining property as the decedent's Will describes, or according to State law if no Will exists.
The Probate Process
Probate can be described as the process by which the decedent’s will is admitted or rejected to probate, the creditors paid and the assets distributed to the beneficiaries. The term probate is derived from the latin word, probatum, meaning a thing proved or judged. What we are proving in the probate court is whether the decedent’s will is valid or invalid. The probate process can be time consuming and expensive. There are a few methods in Missouri to shortcut the full blown probate process. The Missouri licensed attorneys at the law firm of Gregory E. Robinson, P.C., have the experience necessary to advise you if one of these shortcuts can be utilized for your case.
The statutory shortcuts available in Missouri to dispense with the probate process are:
- Refusal of letters to a surviving spouse or unmarried minor children;
- Refusal of letters to a creditor; and
- Small estate affidavit.
The first two options are known as refusal of letters and are found at Section 473.090 RSMO. The last option is known as an affidavit of distribution and is found at Section 473.097 RSMO.
All three of these shortcuts were first created in Missouri in 1877. Many other States have adopted, in some form or another, these shortcuts.
Beginning the Probate Process
If one of the shortcuts discussed above is not available, then it might be necessary to open up a full probate proceeding to administer the estate of the decedent by utilizing the full probate court process.
When a personal dies having executed a will, it is said the person dies testate. When a person dies without having executed a will, it is said the person dies intestate. When an individual dies testate, the person named in the will to administer the estate of the decedent is known as the personal representative. When an individual dies intestate, the person who administers the estate of the decedent is known as the administrator.
With more than 50 years of combines experience, the attorneys at the law firm of Gregory E. Robinson, P.C. can help you through the entire probate process. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you and help you learn what steps are necessary for your loved one's estate.