Your reluctance to dive into your estate planning is understandable given that few people in Saint Charles like to face the prospect of their own deaths. Doing so, however, is important if you hope to avoid issues with the distribution of your estate. Yet almost as important as preparing an estate is also preparing those who have been chosen to administer it. Many clients have come to us here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law after having been asked to serve as the personal representative of an estate, yet not knowing what to do when their loved one dies.
According to Missouri's Probate Code, your personal representative should first file a petition with the probate court that would have jurisdiction over your case. That would be the court in the county in which you reside or any county in which you hold property if you are a resident of the state. This needs to be done within 20 days of your death. That petition should include a copy of your will (if one has not already been filed with the court), the names and contact information of all heirs and other interested parties to the estate, as well as a valuation of your estate's assets.
The court will then issue letters testamentary to your personal representative which formally endow him or her with the authority to administer your estate. Your designated personal representative can choose to either step away or ask others to share in fulfilling the role. If you anticipate him or her becoming overwhelmed with the responsibility, your can designate a co-executor or outline a method through which he or she can enlist more help.
You can learn more about preparing for the probate process by continuing to explore our site.