There is an excellent chance that, at some point in your life, you will become directly involved in the probate of an estate. When that happens, you may find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed. The St. Louis County court system can be difficult to navigate, particularly if have no previous experience with the courts and you are also grieving the loss of a loved one at the same time. We understand how challenging it can be to try and oversee the probate process while simultaneously dealing with your own personal feelings of loss. To make things just a little easier for you, we have put together some resources that may help you find the services, advice, and support you need.
Probating an estate in the St. Louis, Missouri area will require you to become familiar with the St. Louis County Probate Court. You will open the probate of the estate in this court, as a general rule, if the decedent was a resident of St. Louis County at the time of his or her death. The St. Louis County Probate Court is located at 5th Floor, 105 South Central Avenue, Clayton, Missouri. General information about the court can be found on the court’s website. Directions to the court can also be found on the website. If you are new to the probate process, you can find answers to frequently asked questions relating to probate as well on the court’s “FAQs” section. Although it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney if you find yourself involved in the probate of an estate, the court does have a “Forms” section for unrepresented litigants. At some point during the probate process you will likely need to search court records which can be accomplished through the Missouri “Case.net” website.
Practical Probate Resource for the Executor/Personal Representative
If you were named by the decedent as the Executor, or you volunteered to be the Personal Representative, of the estate, you will have a number of practical duties and responsibilities throughout the probate process. Those duties and responsibilities will start with obtaining a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate which can be accomplished through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. You will also find that you need to publish notice of the probate in a local newspaper in order to give creditors the ability to file claims against the estate. Some local publications that publish legal notices include The Countain, Missouri Public Notices, and Missouri Lawyers Media. You may also find that you need to do some research on personal property in St. Louis to ensure that you have located all of the decedent’s property. The St. Louis County “Property and Roads” section on the county website can help. Finally, as the Executor/PR of the estate you will also need to obtain date of death values for the decedent’s assets. To do that you may require the assistance of professional appraisers such as True Value Appraisal, Inc.
General Probate Resources
If you have never served as an Executor or Personal Representative before you probably don’t know where to start. Most people in your position choose to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney to help them throughout the probate process. Whether you hire an attorney, or decide to go it alone, there are some resources available that can help you to better understand the probate process in general and your role in it specifically. The American Bar Association’s “Frequently Asked Questions” section, for example, has information about the probate process that you might find helpful. The Missouri Bar has also published an online pamphlet entitled “Probate Law Resource Guide” than can be an invaluable resource to the new Executor/PR.
If you plan to retain an attorney to assist you, the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) is a good place to start. The AAEPA is a national organization of attorneys who have chosen to focus their practice on legal issues related to wills, trusts, and estates. Membership in the AAEPA signifies that an attorney has proven experience in the areas of estate planning and/or elder law. The AAEPA can help you find the right attorney to help you through the probate process. The Missouri Bar also has an attorney referral service that you might be able to use to help find the right attorney for your needs.
Tax Relates Resources
As part of the probate process, any federal gift and estate tax owed by the estate must be paid. Calculating the amount of federal gift and estate tax due from an estate is a complex process. Making a mistake in those calculations can cost the estate, and consequently the beneficiaries, a considerable amount of both time and money. If you are unfamiliar with federal gift and estate taxes, the IRS “Frequently Asked Questions on Estate Taxes” page may be a good place to start. The “Estate Tax” section of the IRS website can also be helpful for a first time Executor/PR.
Contact Us for Assistance with Probate
If you have specific questions or concerns regarding the probate of an estate, or you would like to discuss retaining an experienced estate planning attorney to assist you in the administration of an estate, contact the experienced St. Louis, Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.