We are open and available to you via telephone, video or in-person consultation.

Charting Futures For More Than 30 Years

How does the court handle debt during probate?

It is easy to think that when you die, your debts die with you. However, that is not how it works. Even after your death, your debt collectors still want to recoup the money you owe them. To do this, they will go after your estate. The Missouri probate court has a process by which lenders may seek to get funds from your estate to pay back debts you owe.

The Missouri Bar explains the probate court allows creditors to make claims for payment against your estate. Once the court validates any claims from creditors, your personal representative must pay those debts from your estate before distributing your assets to your heirs.

You may not have enough in your estate to repay every creditor. If this happens, then the court prioritizes your debts. Only the top priority creditors would see repayment. You should figure in paying your debts as you create your estate plan.

You also cannot escape tax debt. Your estate may have taxes due at the state and federal level. To pay them, your estate needs a federal tax number and your personal representative must file a tax return for the estate.  You may also owe property taxes. There are also additional taxes possible, such as estate and gift taxes that your heirs must pay before the probate court may close your estate. Tax rates and rules change often, so it is difficult to plan ahead for them, but you can try to work them into your estate plan.

It seems that there is always money you owe to someone, even after you die. A successful estate plan will plan for these debts and ensure that you leave your heirs without having to worry about them.

This information is for education and is not legal advice.