As Missouri families and individuals get their affairs in order and create an estate plan that gives them peace of mind about the future, there are many new terms and rules to learn. One of the issues that commonly comes up during these discussions is probate. According to Investopedia, probate is the legal process used to review a will to decide if it is authentic and valid. The downside of probate is that it can take a long time to complete and your beneficiaries may be waiting a while to get their inheritance.

While you may hear many negative comments about probate, there are advantages to the process that you should consider. First, this is important if you have minor children and want to appoint a guardian for them. Simply putting a guardianship provision in your trust may not be effective, but the probate court most often honors your requests from the will about who should care for your children, unless it is found that the person is unable or unsuitable to take care of your children.

Another benefit of probate is that it places a limit on creditor claims. Notice of your death is published in a newspaper and all creditors must be notified. Once this happens, the clock begins ticking and they have a limited time where they can make a claim against the estate. If the creditor files a claim outside this time period, otherwise known as the statute of limitations, it may be denied.

Finally, while living trusts are a way to avoid probate, you may have last-minute assets that are not included in the trust. These can be things like lawsuit awards and last-minute inheritances. In this situation, you can use a pour-over will which will place any undesignated assets in the hands of your trustee.

This information is intended for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.