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Probating small estates in Missouri

Most in Saint Charles have likely heard horror stories about the probate process and how it should be avoided at all costs. Indeed, the probate process can prove costly (depending on how long the administration process takes to complete). The funds to pay probate-related costs come directly from an estate’s assets. Given that (according to the Survey of Consumer Finances) the median estate amount in the U.S. is $69,000, this may cause concern that a significant portion of an estate’s assets might go towards paying for probate. Yet those concerns may be unfounded given that Missouri state law allows for smaller estates to bypass the probate process altogether. 

Per Section 473.097 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes, any person who is a designated beneficiary to en estate can petition the court to have the estate’s property dispersed without awaiting for powers of appointment in the estate to be made (in others, without having to wait for the executor of the estate to be identified and the estate submitted for probate). To do this, however, the following criteria must be met: 

  • The total value of the estate (minus any liens, debts or other encumbrances) is than $40,000
  • At least 30 days has passed since the death of the decedent 
  • A bond is offered up by the petitioner equaling the total value of the property of the estate
  • Any and all court and legal fees are satisfied

Specifically referring to the required bond, it is offered as security that the petitioner will ensure that any outstanding debts against the estate will be paid, and that the decedent’s funeral and burial costs will be covered by the estate’s assets before any distributions to beneficiaries are made. 

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