Should I Open a Probate Estate?

No one is legally obligated to open a probate estate. This is true despite what the deceased person’s creditors may tell you.  If the deceased person left no assets, the family members of a deceased person are generally not personally obligated to pay the bills of the deceased person absent their agreement to do so. 

If the deceased person’s debts exceeds assets and a compromise cannot be worked out with creditors, it may not make economic sense to open an estate. 

It is important to consider whether MO HealthNet (formerly Missouri Medicaid) provided benefits to the deceased person.  MO HealthNet will generally have a lien for the cost of services provided to a deceased person.  If the deceased person was receiving MO HealthNet benefits, the amount of the lien can be obtained, and a decision about whether to proceed in probate can be made. In some cases, this lien can be avoided.

Two terms that are heard frequently when speaking of probate are: testate and intestate.

Testate means there is a valid will and it has been presented to the court in a timely fashion.
Intestate means there is no will and the property of the deceased person will be distributed according to state law.

If you decide to open a probate estate, Dean Law Office LLC can assist with all legal procedures and help you in finding trustworthy companies to manage the everyday issues: selling real estate and personal property (auction versus estate sale), finding an appraiser, getting the proper insurance you need, cleaning up the house, maintaining the house (i.e. caring for the yard), and referring you to a qualified real estate agent who sells houses in the area where the deceased person resided.  We recognize that family members may need help will more than just the legal procedures.

There are a number of estate proceedings but two types of probate administrations. 

Supervised Administration
In a supervised estate, the court monitors the actions of the personal representative.  The personal representative will need court approval to sell real estate and take other actions.  The court will require annual accountings or settlements which are reviewed and audited by the probate division of the court.

Independent Administration
In an independently administered estate, the administrator is given greater leeway in disposing of assets. 

If an individual opens an estate, that person is known as a personal representative (older wills referred to this person as executor or executrix)

There are a number of probate procedures which are less time consuming, less expensive, and quicker
than administration.

Copyright © Dean Law Office LLC, 2010

Margaret Dean 816-753-3100