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Small Estates Attorney in Kansas City, Missouri

In both Kansas and Missouri, if an estate qualifies as a small estate under the law, it can bypass the regular probate procedures, saving time and reducing costs. But what constitutes a small estate? The criteria can vary, including factors such as the gross value of the estate, the types of assets involved, and whether the deceased left a will. Understanding these nuances can be complex. 

At The Probate Law Center, we understand that dealing with the probate process can be emotionally challenging—or even completely overwhelming—for you and your loved ones. That's why we're committed to guiding you through this process, ensuring it's as smooth and stress-free as possible. We've noticed that many people aren't aware of the small estate procedures available in Kansas and Missouri. These procedures may be able to simplify the probate process for estates that meet certain criteria.

When you’re ready to get started, reach out to The Probate Law Center. Our probate attorney is proud to serve individuals and families in Kansas City and surrounding areas including Overland Park, Lee's Summit, Independence, and Kansas City, Kansas. 

Understanding Small Estates 

There are specific procedures in place for handling small estates in probate. These procedures aim to simplify the process, making it more efficient for estates that meet specific criteria. A small estate is typically defined as one with a total value below a certain threshold. In Kansas, the procedure for handling small estates is known as "summary administration," while in Missouri, it's referred to as an "affidavit of heirship. "

Both processes allow for a simplified probate process, eliminating the need for a formal probate case or the appointment of a personal representative. Instead, the assets can be transferred directly to the heirs through an affidavit process. 

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Eligibility and Requirements 

To qualify for these small estate procedures, certain conditions must be met. For instance, the estate should primarily consist of personal property, such as bank accounts, vehicles, or personal belongings. Real estate is generally not eligible for the small estate procedures.

While every situation is unique, certain details remain the same, depending on if you reside in Kansas or Missouri. 

Small Estates in Kansas

It’s important to understand eligibility for summary administration in Kansas. To qualify, the total value of the decedent's probate estate, less liens and encumbrances, should not exceed $75,000. Furthermore, the decedent must have been a resident of Kansas. If the decedent left a will, it must be filed with the probate court, even if it is not being probated. 

Certain types of property can be included in the small estate, such as household goods, furnishings, and personal effects. Vehicles, bank accounts, and other personal property are also generally eligible. However, remember that real property cannot be transferred using the small estate procedure.

The affidavit for summary administration in Kansas has strict requirements:

  • Besides the general information about the decedent and the estate, it must include the name and address of the surviving spouse, if any, as well as the names, addresses, and ages of the heirs and legatees.

  • An inventory of the decedent's property and its approximate fair market value must also be included in the affidavit, along with a list of the decedent’s debts, if any.

  • The affidavit has to be signed by all heirs who have a legal interest in the estate, or their guardians or conservators if they are minors or incapacitated.

  • In addition, it must be signed by two disinterested adult witnesses and notarized before being filed with the court. Last, the person filing the affidavit must give a copy to anyone who would have received notice of the probate proceeding under Kansas law.

The court will then issue an order distributing the decedent’s property to the persons entitled to it. 

Small Estates in Missouri

In Missouri, eligibility for the Affidavit of Heirship process comes with its own set of specific requirements. Like in Kansas, to qualify, the total value of the decedent's probate estate, after the deduction of liens and encumbrances, should not exceed $40,000. It's also required that 30 days have passed since the death of the decedent.

The types of property that can be included in the small estate are similar to Kansas, such as personal belongings, vehicles, and bank accounts. However, just like in Kansas, real property is not eligible for transfer through the small estate procedure.  

The Affidavit of Heirship in Missouri must include essential details about the decedent and the estate. It should contain the name and address of the decedent and the surviving spouse, if applicable. The names, addresses, and ages of the heirs and legatees should also be included. A comprehensive inventory of the decedent's property, along with its approximate fair market value and a list of the decedent’s debts, is a necessary part of the affidavit. All heirs who have a legal interest in the estate—as well as two disinterested adult witnesses—must sign the affidavit. If any of the heirs are minors or incapacitated, their guardians or conservators should sign instead.

Once these requirements are met, the court will then issue an order distributing the decedent’s property to the rightful beneficiaries. 

When Small Estate Procedures Aren't Available 

Keep in mind that these small estate procedures are not available for all estates. If the estate doesn't meet the criteria for a small estate, it will typically have to go through the regular probate process. A skilled estate planning attorney can help you at every stage of this process. 

How We Can Help 

Working with an experienced probate attorney from our team can ensure the correct procedures are followed and that the estate is handled efficiently. We can assist with preparing the necessary affidavits, filing them with the court, and guiding you through the process. We've helped countless families in both Kansas and Missouri navigate small estates and other parts of the probate process, and we're ready to assist you, too. 

Small Estates Attorney in Kansas City, Missouri 

If you're dealing with a small estate in Kansas or Missouri and are unsure about the best way to handle it, don't hesitate to reach out to us at The Probate Law Center. We have extensive experience in probate law and can provide the guidance and assistance you need. Remember, you don't have to navigate this journey alone. Set up a consultation with our lawyer today.