Missouri offers a probate shortcut for "small estates." This makes it easier for survivors to transfer property left by a person who has died. You may be able to transfer a large amount of property using the following probate shortcut -- saving time, money, and hassle.
Missouri has a simplified probate process for small estates. To use it, an inheritor or the personal representative files a written request with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court may authorize the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.
You can use the simplified small estate process in Missouri if the value of the entire estate, less liens and encumbrances, is $40,000 or less. There is a 30-day waiting period. You will have to get a bond (an insurance policy that protects the estate) in an amount equal to the value of personal property. You are responsible for ensuring debts owed to the state of Missouri and the estate will pay funeral and burial expenses before you receive your inheritance. You are also responsible for giving the other inheritors the assets they are entitled to.
Your written request must include the following information:
If the value of the personal property is more than $15,000, the court clerk must publish a notice in a local newspaper that tells creditors to file their claims within one year from the date of publication. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 473.097.
For help determining if an estate qualifies for one of these probate shortcuts, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo), or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).