Avoiding Probate in Missouri

Rolla estate planning lawyers assist clients seeking alternatives to a will

Someone who has been through the probate process as either an estate representative or heir might be interested in alternatives that can save their loved ones money and time. There are numerous strategies you can employ to reduce the scope of your estate and perhaps eliminate the probate process altogether. At Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, P.C. in Rolla, we counsel clients on options such as trusts and joint ownership that we’ve used to help Missouri clients distribute their property outside of the court-managed probate system.

What is probate?

Probate is the process by which the assets of someone who has died are distributed among surviving individuals and organizations. If the decedent has a valid will in place, the function of probate is to see that the instructions in the will are carried out faithfully. Someone who has died intestate will have their property dispersed according to the priority system set forth in state law. As probate presents complex challenges, many families seek assistance from a qualified Missouri estate planning attorney regarding strategies to bypass or eliminate the process completely.

Disadvantages of probate

If you’ve never been involved with probate, you might not realize why many people try to avoid the process when developing their estate plans. Settling an estate under court supervision can take many months, sometimes even more than a year. During this period, intended heirs cannot access the property left to them. Furthermore, expenses such as attorney’s fees and property taxes accumulate during this period. Probate is also a public process, which is not ideal for those who wish to keep matters private.

Selling a house during probate

In many estates, the most valuable asset is the home owned by the decedent. Selling property is complex at any time, but it can be an especially stressful process while managing probate simultaneously. Like other assets, a home can be placed into a trust in order to ease the transfer of ownership following one’s death. No matter what you choose, we can handle the legal aspect of your real estate transaction while making sure that that sale-related issues and expenses are properly administered through the estate or trust.

Strategies for avoiding probate in Missouri

There are various types of property where ownership can be shifted upon one’s death without forcing beneficiaries to wait through probate, such as:

  • Assets in living trusts — Many individuals and families decide to transfer assets by creating a trust. You could establish a revocable trust that allows you to access its assets throughout your life then distribute the remaining property to specific designees outside of probate upon your death.
  • Jointly held property — If two people have joint ownership of a home, bank account or some other property, that item becomes the sole property of the surviving owner once the other dies.
  • Holdings with contingent beneficiaries — Certain investments and other holdings allow someone to shift ownership at the time of their death to a named beneficiary. If an asset is payable on death to someone you name, that asset does not pass through probate. 
  • Life insurance proceeds — When someone dies, the proceeds of their life insurance go directly to the individual(s) or organization listed in the policy.

After discussing your situation, we can use these assets or others to construct a comprehensive estate planning strategy that accomplishes your goals.

Speak with an accomplished Missouri lawyer about ways to avoid probate

Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, P.C. in Rolla counsels Missouri clients on ways to pass their assets to beneficiaries outside of the probate process. Please call 573-458-9481 or contact us online to make an appointment for a consultation.