A Will is a legal paper that states who receives your property when you die but it is important to note that a Will does not avoid the necessity of probate[1] and must be “probated” to have legal effect.  Many people prefer to pass some or all of their assets directly to their heirs without going through the probate process.  Although this is not always possible, there are some steps that Missouri residents can take to avoid probate.

  • St. Charles Revocable Living Trust: The advantage of holding valuable property in trust is that after a person’s death, the trust property is not part of the probate estate because the trustee owns the trust property. After death, therefore, the trustee can easily and quickly transfer the trust property to family or friends without probate.
  • Pay-on-Death Accounts: It is possible to convert bank accounts and other financial accounts to payable-on-death account[2] by filling out a form listing the beneficiary. When the individual dies, the money goes directly to the beneficiary without going through probate.
  • Joint Ownership: Several forms of St. Louis joint ownership provide a simple and easy way to avoid probate. When the deed or other required document names a joint owner, the property goes to the joint owner upon the death of the co-owner.
  • Gifts: Giving away property during an individual’s lifetime helps to avoid probate because assets that you do not own at the time of death do no go through the probate process.
  • Beneficiary Transfer: A beneficiary bill of sale and beneficiary transfer instrument are documents that can establish beneficiaries for personal property upon an individual’s death.  Although these documents cannot be used for titled items such as automobiles, they can be effective for use with untitled personal property items.

Talk to a St. Louis Probate Lawyer

If you are considering options to allow your family and friends to inherit your assets without the need to go through the lengthy and expensive probate process, speak to a Missouri probate attorney to discuss your options under Missouri law. Call Kenneth P. Carp to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case at (636) 947-3600.


[1] http://www.mobar.org/uploadedFiles/Home/Publications/Legal_Resources/Brochures_and_Booklets/Probate_Law_Resource_Guide/wills.pdf
[2] http://revisor.mo.gov/main/Home.aspx

Written by kennethpcarplaw@gmail.com