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The probate division has been established primarily to protect the rights of one's heirs, beneficiaries under a will and creditors, and to assure the orderly transfer of property. However, if an individual disposes of all property prior to death, either by gift, living trust, joint accounts with right of survivorship, pay-on-death accounts, beneficiary accounts or other similar transfer-on-death provisions, then there may be no need to probate the estate, as the distribution of such property is not affected by the terms of a will or the laws of intestate succession. However, in the case of most individuals dying with property in Missouri, some involvement with the probate division will be necessary.
The assets of the deceased, except for any real estate passing to heirs or devisees under the will, are held and managed by the Personal Representative during the administration of the estate. The Personal Representative makes distribution of the estate when the administration is ended and the Personal Representative has reported all transactions to the probate division for approval.
The earliest that an estate may be closed and distribution made to the heirs or beneficiaries is approximately six (6) months after the opening of the estate. However, it is unusual for all administrative duties to be finalized within that period of time.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified estate planning lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local estate planning attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.