What is Missouri Probate?
In Missouri Probate Court supervises the decedent’s estate process at death. All property titled in the decedent’s name alone passes through Probate. According to Missouri statutes, a person cannot represent the estate without hiring an attorney. The type of probate depends on the estate value.
The Estate value is divided into a small estate. A small estate is less than $15,000 in estate assets to avoid publication. A small estate is between $15,000 and $40,000 requires publication. In Missouri a full estate is $40,000 and above. Property titled in the decedent’s name alone passes through the Court system whether the person died intestate or with a Last Will.
Certain assets are also excluded from the probate process, including assets with joint ownership, community property with rights of survivorship, and policies with beneficiary designations. Examples of policies excluded are life insurance and retirement benefits with named beneficiaries, and Payable on Death accounts. Living trusts also may not have to go through probate. It is best to work with a lawyer to determine if the property is included or excluded.
Working with an attorney, the Personal Representative, gathers the estate assets and debts for the probate process. Unless a will designates that a Personal Representative serve without bond, the Court requires that a Personal Representative qualify and pay for a surety bond. The Court may approve independent or supervised administration.
Independent administration means that the Judge does not need to approve the Personal Representative’s actions in paying debts, attorney fees and property distribution. Often Independent administration is possible when there is no contest of the Will or Trust documents.
The Court may find it is necessary to supervise the estate administration, which means a longer time to close the estate and higher costs. Supervised administration requires formal proceedings. Supervised administration may occur when a Personal Representative is not able to post a court-ordered surety bond.