At the Piatchek Law Firm, attorney Joseph J. Piatchek is available to answer questions and guide clients through the probate process. Our experienced lawyers can help your family through the probate process in many county courts throughout Missouri.
What Is Probate?
Probate law can be very complicated. A good place to start is to review what probate is and when it is required.
Probate is required when someone passes away, and there is still property titled into the name of the deceased person. Essentially, when someone passes away, any property that is still titled in the deceased person’s name becomes “stuck” that way. Probate is the process of getting the property “unstuck” (i.e., out of that deceased person’s name) and delivering it to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. If a decedent passes away without a will, Missouri state law determines who will be the deceased person’s heirs. If the decedent did have a last will and testament, the will will determine who the deceased person’s beneficiaries are.
The Probate Process
Our attorneys can assist you with the probate process by first determining which assets need to be probated and then by determining which assets may avoid probate. Once our attorneys have helped you narrow down the exact property that must be probated, note that there are several different ways that assets can be probated in Missouri. You will need the expertise and advice of our experienced attorneys to guide you through the appropriate method of probate, depending on the size and nature of the assets involved. Your attorney should know the differences between the various methods of probate, so that they can tell you which method will be the most expedient and affordable for you.
For a more complete discussion on the various types of probate estates and methods in Missouri, please click on the following links:
- Typical Probate Estate Administration (within one year of death)
- Small Estates ($40,000 or less)
- Refusal of Letters in Favor of Spouse, Minors, Dependents, or Creditors
- Determination of Heirship (more than one year after death)
- Affidavit of Heirship (real estate only, more than one year after death)
What Should I Expect from Probate?
Our attorneys find that one of the single greatest factors that goes into someone’s experience dealing with a probate court is the expectations held at the beginning of the probate case. Some clients have totally unrealistic expectations, which is understandable, because they have never been through it before. Other clients may have no expectations whatsoever; they simply have questions about how probate courts work. Generally, the more realistic your expectations, the less frustrating the process will be.
Put another way, if you get into a hurry during the probate process, you will likely be disappointed time and time again. The probate court is designed to be very deliberate and comprehensive. Therefore, probate often takes a good deal of time. Creditors are typically allowed time to file claims. Real estate and property must be gathered, valued, and sold. Claims by creditors of the estate must be paid. There are timelines and notice requirements under Missouri probate law, and the probate court needs time to carry out all these functions. All in all, probate is not a quick process.
Let us be clear – this is no excuse to take things slow. Our attorneys will be as expedient and diligent as possible. However, that being said, probate can be a long process, and we don’t ever want to hide or sugarcoat that fact. At the Piatchek Law Firm, we help people navigate probate court while attempting to minimize the delays and confusion often associated with the probate process. For help with your probate case, call us at 417-882-5858 or contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Providing Quality, Compassionate Probate Services
Currently, all four of our attorneys are probate attorneys in one way or another. Attorney Joseph J. Piatchek regularly assist clients with all types of probate cases. We can also handle contested probate cases and probate litigation. We can explain Missouri’s probate laws, answer your questions, guide you through the process, and assist you with the orderly administration of probate estates. If you contact us, we would be happy to meet with you and guide you through each step, from the opening of the estate, to paying debts and distributing inheritances, to the closing of the estate.
There are certain, very specific circumstances in which some items may be able to avoid probate even if someone passed away with assets titled into their own name, specifically with real estate. This is a rare exception. For more information on this, please see our page “Affidavit of Heirship.” For more information about avoiding probate generally, see our page “Probate Avoidance.”
Additionally, our firm can help you avoid probate by structuring your estate plan in advance. Revocable living trusts, POD, TOD, non-probate transfers, and even business entities are just some of the tools we utilize when completing the estate planning process to avoid probate. We can discuss other potential techniques if you are interested in the asset protection process for you and your family. And as always, remember that wills do not avoid probate!
Missouri Ancillary Probate Services
Under special circumstances, an ancillary probate may be required. This is a type of probate proceeding that is required in addition to the primary probate proceeding that will take place in your home state. If you own real estate that is located outside of your home state, or other personal property including a car, boat, or airplane, that is registered and titled outside of your home state, ancillary probate may be necessary. You may also need to consider ancillary probate services if you are concerned with mineral, oil, gas, or livestock rights associated with any real estate that you own outside of your home state.
Our Attorneys Make House Calls and Home Visits
Talk to a probate lawyer in Springfield, Missouri about your probate or estate administration concerns today. To speak with a Springfield, Missouri probate attorney, simply call our offices directly at 417-242-4015 or contact us online. We are happy to set an initial consultation to discuss your case, and may be available for evening and weekend appointments, as available. We can also arrange a home visit if you are unable to travel to our offices. We serve all Missouri Counties, including the Southwest Missouri, Ozark, Nixa, and Branson.