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How do I avoid probate in Missouri

How do I avoid probate in MissouriTo avoid probate in Missouri, some straightforward actions to take include:

  •  establishing a living trust,
  • designating your financial accounts as “payable on death”,
  • designating your securities as “transferable on death”,
  • creating joint ownership of real estate and other property,
  • creating transfer-on-death deeds for real estate,
  • and creating transfer-on-death registration of vehicles.

While it is widely known that avoiding probate is generally advisable, the reasons for doing so may not be clear. If you want to learn more about probate court, we invite you to read on.

What is probate?

Probate refers to the procedure through which the belongings of a deceased person are allocated among living individuals and entities. In cases where the deceased person has a legally recognized will, the purpose of probate is to ensure that the directions outlined in the will are executed accurately. In situations where a person passes away without a will, their assets are distributed based on the hierarchy specified in state regulations. Given the intricate nature of probate, numerous families choose to engage a skilled Missouri estate planning lawyer for guidance on methods to circumvent or eradicate this process.

Why do many people want to avoid probate?

The probate process tends to be costly, time-consuming, and complicated. It usually takes a year or longer, especially with estates of larger holdings and concerns.

Probate court records are open for the public to see. The assets that find themselves in probate are easy picks for any existing creditors. These creditors just have to lodge a claim with the probate court to get their payment.

You can avoid the probate court with some careful estate planning and the assistance of a lawyer who’s skilled in probate avoidance.

Utilizing Estate Planning Instruments to Bypass Probate

While a will provides your beneficiaries with necessary guidelines for managing your matters, additional estate planning paperwork becomes essential if your intention is to prevent your estate from undergoing probate proceedings. Here, we highlight crucial planning documents that serve this purpose, with the paramount revocable living trust leading the way.

When employed collectively, the estate planning mechanisms listed below empower a majority of individuals to successfully evade the probate process in pursuit of their objectives.

Living Trust

In most situations, this is undoubtedly the most effective choice for avoiding probate in Missouri. Almost all assets held within a revocable (living) trust are exempt from the probate process. A trust can also serve as a preventative measure against potential issues that can arise with joint ownership and beneficiary designations.

Within a living trust arrangement, an individual transfers real estate, vehicles, and various forms of property into the trust, which assumes ownership of these assets. Typically, the trust creator also serves as the trustee in the case of a living trust, often referred to as a revocable trust. This implies that the trustee retains the authority to modify it whenever deemed necessary. (In instances where the trust creator relinquishes the ability to terminate or modify the trust, it becomes classified as irrevocable.)

When establishing a living trust, it becomes possible to designate a “successor trustee” who steps in upon your death or incapacitation. This appointed successor trustee then possesses the authority to directly allocate the assets to your heirs, effectively bypassing the probate court process.

Real Estate Transfer-on-Death Deeds

In the state of Missouri, it is feasible for individuals to pass real estate to their heirs using “transfer-on-death deeds,” also known as beneficiary deeds. Transfer-on-death deeds stand as a specific category of real estate deed that serves the purpose of facilitating the transfer of real property, including one’s residence, upon the demise of the property owner. The process entails signing and officially recording the deed at present, yet the actual transfer of the real estate to the designated heir is postponed until the owner’s passing. This arrangement does not impose any restrictions on the owner’s ability to sell the property or to revoke the deed if desired.

Transfer-on-Death Vehicle Registration

In Missouri, there exists the option to transfer vehicle ownership to a chosen beneficiary upon the owner’s passing, providing a means to bypass the probate process. This can be accomplished by designating the beneficiary at the time of vehicle registration. Transfer-on-Death (TOD) designations are commonly linked to personal assets including vehicles like automobiles, boats, and trailers.

Joint Ownership of Real Estate and Property

In situations where you share ownership of real estate or various types of property with your spouse, business associate, or another individual, your portion of ownership in these assets is automatically passed on to the co-owner upon your demise. This process does not require involvement in probate proceedings and is referred to as joint tenancy with the “right of survivorship.”

Payable-on-Death (POD) Designations

These types of instruments are commonly linked to a range of financial accounts, including bank accounts and stock accounts. Such designations generally provide the option to transfer the funds within these accounts to designated beneficiaries in the event of your passing, circumventing the probate procedure.

Beneficiary Bill of Sale / Beneficiary Transfer Document

These estate planning papers are typically concise and straightforward forms that designate beneficiaries for your physical and personal possessions (commonly referred to as “items” or “belongings”) to be distributed after your demise. For instance, a beneficiary transfer document could allocate your household items, furniture, and apparel to one or more beneficiaries upon your passing. These documents are generally not employed for titled assets, such as vehicles. Their application is limited to tangible, untitled personal belongings.

Contact a Missouri Estate Probate Lawyer Today

If you’re seeking to sidestep the probate process for your own estate or a family member’s, gaining an understanding of the legal particulars is the initial move. Reach out to a proficient probate lawyer at Shea Kohl Law, LC.

With extensive years of assisting clients through probate intricacies and skillfully devising tailored estate strategies that effectively bypass probate, we’re equipped to guide you. Dial (636) 946-9999 to set up a consultation.

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Shea Kohl Law, LC serves clients in Missouri including St. Charles, Troy and Lincoln and throughout Warren and St. Louis counties. We also serve clients in Illinois.