Probate courts are set-up primarily to address property owned by someone when they die. It is designed to be an orderly system whereby property and inheritance are distributed to heirs while simultaneously winding-up the financial affairs of the decedent. Though probate courts specialize (in a sense) in estate administration, the process is cumbersome and can be quite time-consuming. Under Missouri Law, a personal representative must be first appointed by the Court. If the decedent had a Will, a personal representative should be named in the Will (but will still require Court approval). If there is no Will, then interested persons who are qualified under Missouri law must apply for Letters of Administration requesting to be appointed personal representative.
Once a personal representative is appointed, it can take a few weeks to in excess of a year to administer the estate. It depends upon, among other things, the size of the estate and whether creditors have any unsatisfied debts/claims against the estate. Personal representatives, therefore, usually need an attorney (and in some cases are required to obtain one) to be able to appropriately navigate all of the varying deadlines, security interests, filing requirements, etc.
Contact us for a free consultation concerning any existing or potential probate problems/issues.