The bad news is that probate is no fun, time-consuming, and expensive. The good news is that Missouri law provides a simplified process for estates of less than $40,000. This procedure allows heirs to collect the decedent's property using an affidavit as described in Missouri Statute 473.097. Unlike in Kansas, this procedure can be used for both personal and real property (e.g. real estate). The following conditions must met:
(1) the entire estate must be worth less than $40,000 (subtract debts and liens from the value);
(2) 30 days must have passed since the decedent passed away;
(3) unless excused by the Court, a bond must be secured; and
(4) when required, notice must be published to potential creditors.
Any distributee may then prepare an affidavit stating whether the decedent had a will and describing all of the decedent's debts, liabilities and assets. The affidavit must also include information regarding the persons entitled to receive the estate property along with facts establishing their right to the same.
The affidavit must be filed with the clerk and, if approved by the court, the court will issue an order allowing the affiant to collect and distribute the estate property. If necessary, the affiant may liquidate all or part of the decedent's property to pay debts and/or distribute assets.
If you find yourself with a small estate in Missouri, Heritage Law is happy to help you navigate this process and file the necessary paperwork.