When a property holder dies, their estate enters into probate. Loosely translated, probate means "proof of the will" and is a process of validating the estate holder's will, paying creditors and distributing assets.
Probate is a complicated procedure with many key requirements that lead to the final distribution of assets. First, an estate representative is appointed to oversee the probate process. This person is often appointed in the deceased's will. The estate representative will usually work in conjunction with a trusted attorney, unless he or she is a lawyer or has a strong legal background as the probate process is incredibly complex and requires extensive legal knowledge and skills in order to accurately draft and file documents.
The next step involves proving the estate holder's death. This can be done by filing an authentic copy of the estate holder's death certificate which will include all relevant information required by the state, like date, time and place of death. The estate of a missing person may be entered into probate as well. In Missouri when a missing person's absence exceeds five years with no contact during that time, with the appropriate amount of supporting evidence they can legally be declared dead and their assets distributed. Gathering this evidence can be time consuming and difficult, and can be expedited with the help of an attorney and private investigator.
After proof of the estate holder's death has been verified, an official Notice of Creditors should be published in the newspaper, and Notice of Administration sent to others who are involved with the estate.
The assets of the estate will then be distributed. There are many issues that can complicate the distribution, including paying outstanding debts of the estate holder, dividing assets between multiple heirs, if assets are in the form of property in multiple states or countries, or distributing assets to minors.
After distribution has taken place, the estate representative must provide the court with proof of service. This document will include all parties who provided service to the estate and their costs.
Simple probate cases can be completed in a matter of months. More complicated estate matters can take longer, sometimes several years, especially if there are any lawsuits or other legal issues regarding the estate that require resolution.
The attorneys at HSSO have extensive knowledge and experience in estate administration. As experts on estate and tax law, we can ensure your estate is properly cared for and administrated so your loved ones can have time to grieve.
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The probate process is often cumbersome and complex, especially if the estate holder didn't have an estate plan in place. Our experienced estate law attorneys can administrate your estate, guide you through the probate process, and provide expert counsel and representation for any legal issues involved with the estate.