If the total net amount of assets to be probated is less then $40,000, then using the Missouri Small Estate Affidavit procedures will likely save you time and money. A Small Estate Affidavit is an instrument filed with the Probate Court. and is one of several “short forms” of probate available. The focus is on the “net” amount of Estate. In other words, if you have a piece of real estate worth $100,000 with a $75,000 mortgage, then you will likely qualify. This tool is also commonly used where an asset, such as a car or small life insurance policy, is overlooked in a larger estate plan.
In the affidavit you simply state the decedent’s name, date of death, and other relevant information, and identify the heirs. You then list what the decedent owned that is subject to probate, and to whom the decedent owed money. Many Courts require you to submit a copy of the death certificate and proof that the funeral bill has been paid in full.
If the total amount of assets are over $15,000 then publication of a notice for two weeks in a local paper is normally required. In most cases the proceeding is over in a few days to a few weeks, depending on whether or not there is a publication requirement.
You must wait at least 30 days after death to file a Small Estate Affidavit in Missouri.
In most Missouri Courts the filing fee is $65, and, of course, you will need to pay for the publication, and for your lawyer. If there is a will to be admitted to Probate then the fees will be slightly higher.
After the requirements are met, the “Affiant”, or person submitting the affidavit receives a Certificate from the court. By using this certificate the affiant can collect or sell the property/money as appropriate, pay the bills, and then distribute the remainder to the heirs, or as designated in the Will.
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