From time to time we are contacted by someone dealing with some sort of money, real estate, bank account, or other property that should have been probated, but for whatever reason was overlooked. This could be because the asset was recently discovered, or perhaps real estate was not titled as was believed, or simple procrastination.
The first thing to know is that after one year a Will may not be presented for probate – so even if there was one, it doesn’t matter, and it certainly doesn’t matter what the Will said. That means that the property will pass under the Missouri Laws of Descent and Distribution, the same as if there was a “normal” probate without a will.
If the value of the property, whatever it may be, is less than $40,000, then a Small Estate Proceeding may be used, and normally is the preferred procedure, as it is generally faster and less expensive.
If the value of more than $40,000, than we must file an Application to Determine Heirship, commonly called an “Heirship” proceeding. The application is relatively simple, you simply state the name, etc. of the decedent, the description of the property or asset involved, and those who are entitled to receive under the Descent and Distribution Statute. You must notify all parties by certified mail, and a notification must be published. Finally, there must be a hearing, at which the person applying testifies that the facts in the Application are true — normally a very short, matter of fact process. From start to finish this normally takes roughly 90 days. And, yes, you will need a lawyer to do this.
At the end the Court enters an order stating who the new owners are, and if necessary this is recorded in the real estate records.
Questions? Let us know and we’ll try to help.