Estate planning in Saint Charles encompasses not only the actions required to manage your own affairs, but also those related to any estate you may be party to. If, for example, a loved one approaches you asking to be his or her personal representative, it behooves you to know all that you can about the role prior to having to assume it. Our team here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law encourages those who come to us asking for guidance of fulfilling their duties as personal representatives to thoroughly understand the probate process, with the first item being whether or not the estate you are administering will even need it.
You may have been led to believe that all estates must go through probate, yet that is not the case. Smaller estates that do not require the extensive supervision of the court may skip the process altogether. Section 473.097 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes defines “small estates” in this context to be those with a total value less than $40,000 (minus any outstanding liens, debts or encumbrances against the estate). To commence distribution for such an estate, you must wait 30 days from the date of your loved one’s death to file a petition. Along with this petition, you must submit any required fees as well as a bond that stands as an assurance that any claims against the estate are settled, including:
- Any debts owed to the state
- Any remaining debts owed to creditors
- Your loved one’s funeral and burial costs
The responsibility to initiate this process lies with you when you are the personal representative. You can still commence it, however, if you are only party to an estate for which no will has yet been submitted. More information on understanding the probate process can be found here on our site.