Missouri Probate Lawyers
Skillfully guiding individuals and families through the probate process
You may already be familiar with the term “probate” – the legal proceedings that involve transferring someone’s assets after they die. What you may not realize is that the probate process can be confusing, lengthy, and – in many cases – quite costly. Proper estate planning can effectively address the problems that often arise from probate, so that you can pass your estate on to your heirs without going through the probate process. The Missouri probate and estate planning attorneys at Richie, Soper & Schutt, LLC have been serving Missouri families for more than 60 years combined. We skillfully design estate plans tailored to your specific needs and when necessary, guide you confidently through the probate process.
How does the probate process work?
After an individual’s death, the probate court oversees the probate process, a legal process that involves several steps. Specifically, the probate court must:
- Prove the validity of the individual’s last will and testament
- Identify and collect assets of the decedent
- Complete an appraisal of the decedent’s property
- Pay any taxes and outstanding debts
- Distribute the remaining assets to heirs of the estate
This probate process can take years to resolve. Legal delays are common and, the longer the process drags on, the more expensive it becomes. For this reason, many individuals try to avoid the probate process altogether.
Can I avoid probate in Missouri?
Yes. States offer different ways to avoid the probate process. In the state of Missouri, you have several estate planning options that enable you to sidestep probate and pass your estate directly to your heirs. Missouri offers the following options:
- Joint ownership of property: By designating property as jointly owned with another individual — providing the ownership includes “right of survivorship” – the property is immediately transferred to the surviving joint owner(s) upon the owner’s death.
- Living trusts: The living trust document names an individual to act as trustee – a successor trustee — after you die. Ownership of your property is then transferred to you as the trustee of the trust and, upon your death, the successor trustee can transfer the property directly to the trust beneficiaries.
- Payable-on-death designations for bank accounts: this designation on bank accounts enables the account owner to remain full control over the account. Upon the account owner’s death, the beneficiary claims the money directly from the bank.
- Transfer-on-death deeds for real estate: also called beneficiary deeds, these deeds do not take effect until your death. You make sell the property or revoke the deed at any time.
- Transfer-on-death registration for securities: by registering an account in this form, the beneficiary inherits the account automatically upon your death.
- Transfer-on-death registration for vehicles: when vehicles are registered this way, the beneficiary automatically inherits the vehicle upon your death.
Let our Missouri probate attorneys answer your estate planning questions
No one wants their life savings and prized possessions to be tangled up in the probate court for years after their death. By designing an estate plan that specifically addresses your needs and objectives, you can ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after your death. At Richie, Soper & Schutt, LLC, in St. Joseph, Missouri, our skilled estate planning attorneys work with you to design an estate plan that meets your long-term objectives. Schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team; contact our office at 816-387-8200 or online.