The probate process can be long and drawn-out, costing your survivors time as well as money. Fortunately, Missouri offers a probate shortcut for "small estates." If the property you leave behind at your death is below a certain amount, your loved ones can use a procedure called a "small estate proceeding" to transfer your property more quickly and with less hassle.
You can use a small estate proceeding in Missouri if:
Below is an overview of Missouri's small estate procedure.
To open the small estate proceeding, you'll need to file an Affidavit to Establish Title of Distributee (here's a sample). You can file this document only if you are the personal representative of the estate, or if you are an heir.
This affidavit must include the following attachments:
You'll need to pay some fees when filing the affidavit. These might include:
In addition, the court requires either:
After filing the documents discussed above, the personal representative or heir simply presents the affidavit to the person or institution holding the property—for example, a bank where the deceased person had an account. The personal representative will usually also need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate. After that, the person or institution transfers the property.
For more help handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo). For an introduction to how you can plan your estate to help your survivors, try Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).
For more on Missouri estate planning issues, see our section on Missouri Estate Planning.