Losing a loved one can be one of the most emotionally-wrought situations life will throw at you. Just when you think things are hard enough, they can become much more complicated if your loved one has an estate that needs to be settled. When someone dies with assets in their name, the probate process ensues. There must be a probate court proceeding to determine, how accounts and debts will be settled, who is to receive the assets and how they will be distributed.
Probate is the process of settling a person's estate through court-ordered supervision. The purpose of probate is well-intended, wanting to prevent anyone from fraudulently taking someone's estate after they die. Once an estate begins going through the process of probate, the courts essentially freeze the estate until a judge can determine that all of the property in the estate has been properly identified and appraised, any creditors that the decedent owes have been paid, all of their taxes have been paid off, and all relevant people have been notified before distributing property and closing the estate.
If the decedent had an estate plan outlined in a will, the probate process is still required to determine the validity of the will. If the will is deemed valid by a probate judge, then the executor appointed by the document will distribute any property of the estate as instructed by the will. However, if a person dies without a will in place, then a probate administrator will be appointed by the court to distribute the estate based on the intestacy succession laws found in the Missouri Probate Code. Intestate succession laws dictate who inherits the deceased person's probate estate.
With many steps and factors involved, the probate process can quickly become complex. It's important to have a highly-qualified probate attorney that can help you sort through all relevant estate matters— including making sure that all appropriate parties are notified before distributing the assets of the estate.
As an experienced probate attorney, I've been working with clients across the St. Louis area by guiding them through each step of the probate process so that they can fully understand their situation and make the best choices for them and their families. With my counsel in your corner, I can make sure that all taxes and creditors are paid so that the remaining estate can be distributed quickly and efficiently, allowing you and your family to begin to move forward.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be extremely difficult, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If you find yourself needing assistance with a loved one’s assets in the St. Louis area, call the Doskocil Law Firm. I am experienced in the probate process and will guide you through this difficult time. Call me today.