The probate court is established to handle the care of individuals who cannot make their own healthcare and financial decisions. Perhaps the most familiar function of the probate court is the administration of a person’s assets after their death.
Do All Estates go to Probate Court?
Probate is the default method of distributing an individual’s assets and can only be avoided by taking affirmative steps during your lifetime to do so. If you have not done this, the probate court will be responsible for gathering all of your probate assets and distributing them according to your will. If you not have a will, your assets will be distributed according to Missouri statute.1
Will All of My Assets go to Probate Court?
There are two general kinds of assets which you hold at the time of your death: probate and non-probate property. Probate property consists of any asset held in your name alone or in which you have an interest. All probate property is distributed by the probate process.
Non-probate property does not pass through probate. The most common examples include:
- Jointly-owned bank accounts;
- Titles with a “transfer on death” or TOD provisions; and
- Assets held in a trust.
Property in the first two examples will transfer automatically upon death and you will only need a certificate of death to have them officially transferred. Assets held in a trust are non-probate property and will be distributed according to the terms of the trust and without court involvement. Non-probate property generally transfers faster, more easily, and at less cost than probate property.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Missouri law requires that you are representing by an attorney for the vast majority of probate matters. Even where the law does not require representation, an experienced attorney’s advice and counsel can help to streamline the probate process and help you to achieve the results you are looking for. If you are facing probate, you should contact a probate attorney as soon as possible.
Call a St. Louis and St. Charles Probate Attorney Today for a Free Consultation
If you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one and are now confronted with the long and stressful prospect of probate, you should contact a Missouri probate attorney for assistance right away. At The Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp, we have the experience and understanding to guide you and your family through the probate process as quickly and easily as possible. Call (636) 947-3600 today to schedule your consultation.