Lisha A. Seery, LLC

Do I need to go through the probate process if my spouse dies?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2021 | Probate |

Missourians are hard-working individuals, whether they work in the healthcare industry, the service industry the manufacturing industry or any of the many other jobs the state offers. While we work our daily lives, we may find that our jobs become more difficult if our aging parents need care or medical assistance or pass away.

One difficult situation is if one of your parents pass away leaving you and your other parent behind. This is understandably a very emotional time, and it can be difficult to think logically when you are grieving. However, if your deceased parent died without a will, you will be left facing the probate process, which you may not be familiar with.

When is probate necessary?

Probate is necessary if the deceased did not leave a will or if they left a will but did not have any assets that bypass probate such as a trust or certain financial accounts. For example, if a person gave away property before their passing, that property is exempt from probate.

Assets held in a trust are exempt from probate as are certain pay-on-death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) accounts. Assets left through life insurance or retirement accounts that will go straight to a named beneficiary will be exempt from probate. Finally, joint accounts with right of survivorship are exempt from probate. This may include real property such as a home titled in both spouse’s name, which the surviving spouse will gain full ownership over when their spouse dies.

What are a surviving spouse’s rights?

Missouri law states that the surviving spouse of a deceased spouse is allowed to claim 50% of the estate as an intestate decedent. If the surviving spouse also has surviving children, the surviving spouse is entitled to an additional $20,000. Also, certain types of property go directly to the surviving spouse without any regard to the deceased’s will. Some examples of such property include the family Bible, clothing, household implements, furniture and a single automobile.

Learn more about the probate process

Probate can be an intimidating process, especially for those who are unfamiliar with it. It is understandable that a person may need help with the probate process, especially if they are grieving the loss of a loved one. With the right help, a surviving spouse can learn more about probate so that the process runs smoothly.