probate law

Probate law is often confusing. On top of the emotional toll of a loved one’s death, you must also deal with the process of handling their estate. Even an estate with a carefully crafted will may require probate, and that’s when it can be helpful to know the different types of probate that Missouri deals with and how each works. 

What is Probate?

Probate is the process of lawfully distributing property and assets after a person’s death. After taxes and debts are settled, a personal representative is appointed to properly distribute the remaining assets to heirs and beneficiaries. The types of assets that go through probate can be complicated; wills, living trusts, and designated beneficiaries can simplify the process, but Missouri law may still require property or assets to go through the probate process. Some examples of probate assets include:

  • Property owned solely by the decedent
  • Bank accounts with no beneficiary
  • Personal property not named in a will

Types of Probate in Missouri

Estates in Missouri are administered in two ways: supervised and independent. Each has its pros and cons, and it’s not always clear which type of probate is better for an estate. Sometimes, a will is clear enough to allow for independent probate, but the court may still require the estate administration to be supervised. 


Under a supervised estate, the court must approve all decisions presented by the personal representative of the estate. This type of probate is most common when an estate has large amounts of debt or beneficiaries aren’t in agreement about how the estate is being handled. Supervised estates take more time to go through probate due to court processes and procedures. Since each decision must be approved through probate court, a supervised estate can also be more costly. 


Independent estates are probated without must court involvement. Decisions made by the estate’s representative don’t require court approval, only reporting the results at the end of probate. Handling an estate independently is often a much smoother process, but it can be revoked if an heir disagrees without how the estate is being handled. However, if all beneficiaries are in agreement, independent probate can be a quick and easy process. A will may also allow independent probate without court authorization. 

How Can You Avoid Probate in Missouri?

Estate planning can be complex. Even a single bank account without a designated beneficiary can lead to probate whether there’s a will or not. Some estates with less than $40,000 in assets can go through a simplified probate process but may still require supervision. If you want to avoid probate administration in Missouri, the best thing you can do is work with an estate planning attorney. The Law Office of Mark Harford can help you plan your estate or navigate probate through expert legal advice. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you and your family with all your estate planning and probate needs. With years of experience in estate planning matters, the Law Office of Mark Harford can help you understand all the options available to you.