How Probate Laws Work in Missouri

If you’ve recently lost a loved one, you are probably still in the grieving process. As you deal with your loss, you must handle their final affairs. Part of that includes settling the estate and distributing assets to the heirs.

The legal method of dispersing an estate is known as probate, which must go through a court. Probate is often a complex method of following the instructions in a will or state law if there is no will. If you are involved as an heir, the administrator of the estate or an interested party, you should understand the basic laws of probate in Missouri.

Is Probate Required in Missouri?

The answer to this question in most cases is yes. Probate is usually required in Missouri, but there are exceptions. It is important to know these exceptions if you want to avoid probate.

How Do You Avoid Probate in Missouri?

It is possible to avoid probate in Missouri with careful planning. Your best option is to place all assets of the estate into a living trust before you die. You still maintain control with a revocable living trust, but the assets go to the named beneficiary without the need for probate. You can also avoid probate if the assets contain a named beneficiary, such as with life insurance policies or retirement accounts. You can do this with vehicles when you name a person as transfer on death to the title. Real estate works the same way with a quit claim deed, which allows the living names on the title to take ownership when someone dies.

Can an Executor of an Estate in Missouri be Compensated?

Missouri probate law allows for the executor of an estate to be paid for their time and work on the estate. They can also receive reimbursement for any expenses they incur from doing their job.

How Much Does an Executor in Missouri Get Paid?

Missouri probate code provides guidance for the payment of the executor. Their pay is based on the value of the estate. For the first $5000 of an estate, they receive a minimum of 5 percent. For the next $20,000, they receive four percent, for the next $75,000 it is three percent. For the next $300,000, they receive 2.75 percent and 2.5 percent for the next $600,000. Any balance over that amount up to $1 million, the executor receives 2 percent. If the person serving as executor also handles the accounting or other duties, they cannot be paid twice. However, the executor can ask the court for payment above what is allowed. A judge may approve it if it is reasonable and adequate.

How Long Does Probate in Missouri Take?

Probate in Missouri takes at least six months. That time is how long creditors have to file a claim against the estate. However, it often takes much longer, especially if the estate is large or if there are disputes. Other factors which can impact the timeline include how long it takes to locate and inventory the assets and if any assets need to be sold.

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Missouri?

Most estates in Missouri will need to go through probate. However, there is a simplified procedure for small estates. Estates valued at $40,000 or less may qualify. You must submit a written request for the simplified procedure and take responsibility for all debts to be paid and other inheritors. You are also required to submit an inventory list along with the value of the property. If the value of the property is above $15,000, a notice will be published in a local newspaper for creditors who will have one year to submit a claim.

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Missouri?

Yes, a will must be probated in Missouri. It is filed with the county court where the person lived at the time of their death. The court must determine that the will is valid.

Settling an Estate in Missouri

Settling an estate in Missouri is much like in any other state. The same basic steps must be followed, but the timelines and other details may be different. It’s a good idea to know the process even if you aren’t the administrator of the estate to ensure it’s being handled correctly.

How Long Do You Have to File Probate After a Death in Missouri?

Missouri gives you up to one year to file a will with the court after the person’s death. At that time, you can file a petition to open probate.

Probate Court in Missouri

The circuit court is the court that handles probate in Missouri. Each of the 113 counties has its own circuit court. You can find the court for the county where the deceased person lived by searing the state courts website: Missouri Circuit Courts – StateCourts.

Probate Code in Missouri

Missouri has its own probate code in Title XXXI of the Missouri Statutes. Chapter 473 deals with general provisions while Chapter 474 handles the administration of the estate. You can read the statutes here: Missouri Revisor of Statutes – Revised Statutes of Missouri, RSMo Title XXXI.