Probate can be costly and significantly extend the amount of time it takes to settle a deceased person’s estate. Estate planning strategies can help you avoid probate for your inheritors if desired.
Review the factors that determine whether an estate requires probate in Missouri.
Types of probate administration
Estates worth less than $40,000 do not require probate in Missouri. Larger estates can undergo either independent or supervised administration. Independent administration is an informal process, available if the beneficiaries agree or when indicated by the deceased person’s will. With supervised administration, the personal executor of the estate must receive court approval for actions such as selling or distributing assets.
Probate vs. non-probate assets
Not all estate assets require probate. The $40,000 threshold mentioned above applies only to probate assets. Missouri allows property held in a trust to bypass probate. Other probate-exempt assets include property and motor vehicles jointly owned with another person and bank accounts, retirement funds, and investment accounts with an established payable on death beneficiary.
Probate assets include funds held in accounts with no designated beneficiary as well as property, assets, bonds, home, land and stocks owned solely by the deceased individual. If the estate has more than $40,000 in probate assets, the personal representative must follow certain legal steps such as publishing notice of the estate so that potential creditors can file claims.
Careful planning and strategies such as establishing a revocable trust can help ensure that your beneficiaries can access their inheritance without the need for a protracted probate process.