How Long Does Probate Take?

Some insight from my experience as a probate attorney.

Most people that I talk to share a story with me about long probate takes. The story usually involves a loved one’s estate being open for several years, costing a lot of money, and the person being very confused as to how the estate was opened or closed.

In MO, for probate purposes, estates are divided by size. An estate with under $40,000.00 in assets that need to be administered through the court is considered a small estate and can be finalized through a variety of relatively quick procedures. Every estate with a value of greater than $40,000.00 typically needs to be fully administered through the court, regardless of whether or not the person had a will.

Once an estate is opened and the required notice is published, R.S.Mo. 473.840 states that the earliest that the estate can be closed and the assets can be distributed is 6 months and 10 days from the date of the publication. In actuality, you should plan on probate lasting at least 8 months from the date of death.

Knowing that probate takes so long to complete, I encourage people to explore wills and estate planning options so their loved ones don’t have to be subjected to a lengthy probate process.

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