It’s a common belief that a last will and testament (a will) is enough to avoid the costly and time-consuming probate process in Missouri. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, a will is the set of instructions a person leaves for the probate court and their loved ones on how to handle their assets when they die. If you have a will and there are assets in your estate, your loved ones will need to file it with the probate court to distribute your assets.
There are several reasons all wills require probate, including:
1) A will only becomes effective after a person dies. Once you’ve passed away, you no longer own your assets – your estate does. Thus, your will must be filed with the probate court, and the court must determine whether it’s valid and should be followed. This process takes time, it’s expensive, and can be time consuming.
2) When you die, no one is vested with authority to manage your estate, marshal assets, and distribute your property. The probate process allows the court to appoint a personal representative to step into that role, manage your estate, and ensure that the terms of your will are followed.
3) Sometimes family members contest the validity of the will. If the will is contested by a family member or other interested party, the court will need to resolve the dispute by determining whether the will is valid and enforceable
If a will does not avoid probate. What does?
Generally, there are two ways to avoid probate: 1) trust base estate plans; and, 2) non-probate transfer designations. Both of these options have pros and cons that we are happy to walk you through.
With Moore Legacy Law, your estate planning is less about completing a set of documents and more about helping you understand your options, how they work together, and whether there are more efficient ways to distribute your assets at your death, whether that’s creating a trust or ensuring that you have non-probate designations in place in conjunction with your will.
What is a will and what does it do?
A will is the series of instructions you leave for the probate court and your loved ones on how to handle your assets when you die. It is one document within an “estate plan.”
Your will allows you to designate who you want to represent your estate during the probate process and to whom your assets should be distributed at your death. This includes:
- Designating a guardian for your minor children
- Identifying your heirs
- Designating your Personal Representative to handle the process of administrating the estate
- Identifying exactly how you want your assets to be distributed, including instructions for paying third parties and taxes
- Establishing how you would like your remains disposed of: cremation or burial
Your will is filed with the probate court to be used upon your death. Your will does not control any distribution of your assets during your lifetime or if you become incapacitated.
Let us recommend your best option(s).
Contact us now for a free first consult.
Our estate planning – whether will or trust-based – begins with a strategy and ends with a set of documents that ensure your assets go where and how you want them to when you pass and/or if you become incapacitated.
Dan Stuart and Curtis Moore will take the time to get to know you, no matter how large or small your assets are.
Your first consult is on us. Beyond that, we believe in communicating pricing options so you can decide how best to proceed. We are transparent about our cost and provide an estimate before you incur a fee.
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