When people pass away in Missouri, there is always a period of mourning that the family and friends of the deceased go through. However, there is also another aspect that the family will have to deal with after the death as well and that is distributing the assets owned by the deceased at the time of their death. Obviously people cannot take those belongings with them and the possessions cannot just stay in limbo. So, these assets need to be distributed to those who survive them.
In many situations in order to distribute the assets owned by the deceased the estate must go through probate. This is true even if the person had a valid will at the time of their death. The purpose of probate is to ensure that the assets go to the people or entities that the deceased wanted their property to go to or to the appropriate family members if they did not have a will.
Probate starts with the personal representative applying for Letters Testamentary if the person had a will or Letters of Administration if the person did not have a will. Next the personal representative has to publish notice to creditors so that any creditor claiming that the deceased owed them money can make their claim against the estate. The personal representative must give the creditors six months to make claims.
During that time the property needs to be appraised and sold if needed. The personal representative then pays all debts and other expenses and distributes the remaining property. Finally the personal representative documents that they did in fact distribute all assets appropriately and obtains a judge's approval.
One thing that is certain is that at some point in time everyone in Missouri will pass away. After the person does in fact pass away, their property must be distributed. Depending how well the person prepared for their death, the process of distributing assets through probate can be easy or hard. However, regardless of how difficult it is, people still go through the same probate steps. Experienced attorneys understand this process and may be able to guide one through it.