How Long Will The Probate Last?
In Missouri, on average, probate lasts a year because there is what’s called the non-claim period. The non-claim period means that creditors of the deceased person can file claims in probate court in order to get bills paid. That period of time in which creditors can file claims is six months from the date the estate opens. If a creditor doesn’t come in within that six-month period, they are forever barred from trying to get paid out of the assets of the deceased person. The exception to that rule is taxing authorities, the federal or state governments, and secured creditors. For example, if there’s a mortgage on a home or loan on a car, if not paid, they can foreclose and take the asset back even if the creditor doesn’t file a claim because they have a security interest in the asset. However, if the creditor hasn’t filed its claim during the six-month period, and there is still a deficit amount owed upon disposition of that asset, the creditor is forever barred from collecting from other assets of the estate. Due to that six-month claim period, and because the opening of the estate can take one to three or four months, the normal probate in Missouri lasts approximately a year. It takes a couple of months to open it up, six months for the claim period, and a couple of months more to close the estate. A trust, on the other hand, provides immediate access and administration of assets for the benefit of family members, while probate can take up to a year or more to give that same access and freedom of use of the assets. That’s another reason why people tend to favor the use of trusts rather than wills to administer their assets after death.
How often should we be reviewing and updating our estate planning documents? What are some of the life circumstances or events that would call for such a change?
I normally recommend, regardless of life circumstances, that clients review their documents every three to five years because situations change. Usually, people are not cognitively aware that they may need to adjust their plan to compensate for changes in circumstance. However, even if they don’t do that, there are certain life events that require a review of their plan. For instance, if a parent dies and an individual receives a substantial increase in asset value due to the death of a parent, they probably need to review their plan because the distribution mechanism and identity of beneficiaries may well change with a substantial increase in wealth. In similar fashion, if there is a substantial decrease in family wealth, they should probably look at their plan because a plan that was devised with substantial wealth probably won’t be of benefit to the children or other beneficiaries if there are less assets to administer. What would make an intelligent distribution plan for a large value may stringently strangle or provide no real benefit for a substantially lesser amount. If any family member becomes substantially disabled, a review should take place to make sure that the plan protects that individual and maximizes his or her possibility of receiving state or federal benefits. State or federal benefits can include supplementary income from Social Security or Medicaid qualification that provides needed medical care, home health care, or, if necessary, institutionalized health care for the beneficiary. For more information on Estate Planning, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (314) 690-2000 today.
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