AVOIDING PROBATE IN MISSOURI
One of the most important reasons to make an estate plan is to avoid the unnecessary expenditure of time and money in Probate Court. You can make sure that your family will avoid Probate Court after your death if you act now to create an estate plan.
Perhaps the simplest way to avoid Probate is to utilize Missouri’s Non-Probate Transfer Law. Simply put, Missouri (and many other states) allow you to designate beneficiaries to receive property or assets upon your death.
This means that a Probate Court does not have to be involved in the lawful transfer of your property or assets. Instead, the law allows you to name a beneficiary to receive such property or assets simply because of your passing.
Much of this can be accomplished through your interaction with the business or entity holding the property or the asset. For example, you can deal directly with a bank or financial institution to designate a beneficiary to receive an account upon your death. For motor vehicles, or similarly titled assets, you can make a request of Missouri’s Department of Revenue to “re-title” your motor vehicle (or other titled asset) to name a beneficiary.
Designating a beneficiary on some assets will require the assistance of a Missouri estate plan attorney. For ownership of real estate, interests in business entities (a limited liability company or a corporation), or ownership of promissory notes or deeds of trust, you will need to consult with a Missouri estate plan attorney.
Another way to avoid Probate is to create and fund a “Trust”. A Trust is an estate plan technique that is created by a “Settlor”. The Settlor enters into an agreement with a “Trustee” (most often the Settlor is the initial Trustee as well, at least initially). In the Trust agreement, you can provide specific instruction to your Trustee (or the successor Trustee) as to how you wish for your estate to be administered and distributed.
When you create a Trust, it must be funded, meaning that substantially all of your assets must be conveyed to the Trust. A Trust is a private way to handle your final affairs without the involvement of the Probate Court. When you pass, the Trustee simply follows your instructions and distributes your estate as you direct.
The services of a Missouri Estate Plan Attorney are essential to ensure that the Trust you create will be valid and legally binding, and to make sure that your wishes are carried out following your death.
There is absolutely no excuse not to make an estate plan. You can decide what will happen to your estate upon your passing. More importantly, you can ensure that your family does not unnecessarily expend time and money to administer your estate when you are gone.
By: Cary L. Hansen
DID YOU KNOW ? is presented by Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, PC as a public information service only. None of the information contained herein is intended to be taken as legal advice. Each matter depends on unique facts which attorneys must consider in forming an opinion, and may depend on laws unique to a particular jurisdiction. No two cases are the same. If you want to know more about this subject, contact Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, PC, or the attorney of your choice, and seek a formal opinion about your particular case.
Williams, Robinson, Rigler & Buschjost, PC provides legal services in South-Central Missouri, serving Maries County (including Belle, Vienna & Vichy), Crawford County (including Cuba, Steelville, Bourbon), Dent County (including Salem, Lecoma, Bunker), Phelps County (including Rolla, St. James, Newburg, Doolittle, Edgar Springs), Texas County (including Licking, Houston, Raymondville, Summersville, Cabool), Pulaski County (Waynesville, St. Robert, Richland, Dixon, Crocker) and may provide legal service in other locations on request.