What Happens if You Die without a Will in Missouri?

What Happens if You Die without a Will in Missouri?

Creating an estate plan is often one of those things we put off, thinking we’ll get to it tomorrow, or next week, or before the end of the year.  But what happens if you die without a will in Missouri?  None of us wants to think about that, but we should.

Creating an estate plan now means that we are caring for our loved ones by preventing a lot of headaches for them in the future.  An estate plan offers peace of mind.  All too often, people put off writing a will and creating an estate plan until “later,” but later never comes.  Our experienced estate planning attorneys at Birk Law Firm will guide you through each step in the estate planning process.  We’ll help you gather the paperwork, explore your legal options, and craft a plan that is uniquely designed for you and your family.  Contact an estate planning attorney today to begin the conversation.  You can reach us at 573-332-8585.

Do You Need a Will in Missouri?

Technically, no, you do not need a will in Missouri.  Your affairs can be sorted out through the probate process after you pass away.  Probate cases are handled at the local county circuit court in the probate division, and assets will be distributed based on Missouri’s probate law.  However, we urge most clients to avoid this because probate is very public, slow, expensive, and it can be emotionally draining for surviving family members.

Our attorneys encourage all clients to create an estate plan, and a will is part of that.  Regardless of the size of your estate – from $1,000 to a million dollars or more — Birk Law Firm will create a custom plan for you, including ancillary documents such as powers of attorney and trusts, if needed.  Some people may think an estate plan is something only wealthy families need, but that isn’t true.  Most families these days need at least a simple estate plan so that surviving spouses, children and extended family members are cared for.  An estate plan can also provide guidance for the running of farms and small family businesses after you pass away.

Some people go to a lawyer, then a certified public accountant, to set up a will and trust. With Kelvin Birk, you get both. As an attorney, CPA and businessman who grew up on a farm, he provides multidimensional service all in one law firm. We have handled estate plans, including business and farm succession plans, for hundreds of clients, and we can help you, too.

Help with Probate

We usually advise clients to avoid probate because of the expense and public nature of the process, but sometimes probate is unavoidable.  In some cases, people pass away before they had the opportunity to create a will or estate plan.  At Birk Law Firm, we can help you through the probate system. We have handled numerous probate cases in several counties throughout Missouri.  The well-being of your family is our greatest concern, and we will work compassionately and collaboratively with surviving family members to move through the probate process as swiftly as possible.

Probate can be necessary when a person dies with property in his or her name, but without clearly articulated beneficiaries or co-owners.  For example:

  • Bank accounts in the decedent’s name with no co-account holder or beneficiary
  • Acreage or a house owned by the decedent alone
  • Stocks, bonds, or brokerage accounts in the decedent’s name only
  • Jewelry, vehicles, furniture, vacation properties or other valuables owned only by the decedent.

If this describes the situation you are in, call us today at 573-332-8585 and we can discuss how our law firm can help your family with the probate process.

What to Do If My Spouse Dies Without a Will

If a spouse dies without a will in Missouri, his or her assets will go to the closest relatives under state “intestate succession” laws.  Generally, you – the spouse – are the closest relative along with the biological children and grandchildren of you and your spouse.  If your spouse dies without a will in Missouri, a skilled estate planning attorney can be a big help.  Things can get complicated if there are grown children from a previous marriage, former spouses, or other potential beneficiaries involved.

What Are Some of the Documents That Can Be Part of an Estate Plan?

Estate plans can be simple or very complex, depending on the assets involved and the nature of the family.  For example, the estate plan of a young married couple with two children will likely be less complex than the estate plan for a multi-generational family business or farming enterprise.  At Birk Law Firm, we are very comfortable creating a unique estate plan designed just for you and your family, whether big or small.  There are several ancillary documents that can be part of an estate plan in addition to a will, such as powers of attorney and a medical directive.  Depending on your situation, you may also need a trust, such as:

  • Revocable trusts (living trust)
  • Long-term GST (dynasty) trusts
  • Irrevocable trusts, including irrevocable life insurance trusts
  • Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts (MAPT)
  • Income Only Trusts
  • 2503(c) trusts for minors
  • Charitable lead trusts
  • Charitable remainder trusts
  • Grantor retained trusts
  • Intentionally defective grantor trusts
  • IRA management (conduit) trusts
  • Special-needs trusts
  • Qualified personal residence trusts.

A skilled estate planning attorney can use these various legal instruments to not only minimize estate taxes for our clients, but also to minimize capital gains taxes for beneficiaries.

Contact a Skilled Estate Planning Attorney in Missouri Today

The experienced estate planning attorneys at Birk Law Firm have helped countless families just like yours create to wills and estate plans that are customized for your unique needs.  We will take the time to listen to you, explain the process, and recommend a plan that will carry out your wishes.  A custom estate plan can provide great peace of mind for your loved ones now and in the future.  Call us today at 573-332-8585.