Often, following the death of a parent or spouse, surviving family members find the Decedent’s Will, Trust and other Estate Planning documents. Occasionally they conclude that due to various circumstances there appears to be no assets, there appears to be no dispute regarding the distribution of assets, etc., and decide to not file the Will. This is a mistake, and can be serious.
Under Missouri Law, a person in possession of the Decedent’s Will has a statutory duty to file it with the Probate Court. Filing the Will with the Probate Court does not, itself, open a case for administration of the Will. The purpose of filing the Will is merely to make it available to the Court in the event that it becomes necessary to administer an Estate. For instance, it is not unusual to learn of the existence of a bank account more than a year after the death of a family member.
A Will not filed with the Probate Court within one year of the Decedent’s death cannot be used by the Probate Court to carry out the instructions of the Decedent. From time to time assets of the Decedent are discovered more than one year following the Decedent’s death which had not been known by the surviving family members earlier. If the Will was not filed with the Probate Court within one year of the Decedent’s death, the Decedent’s intent may be thwarted or titling an asset may be made much more difficult, and more expensive.
At the Thurman Law Firm we will be happy to meet with you and discuss your obligations when you are in possession of the Will of another, as well as your obligations with respect to the administration of an estate, or your obligations as a Trustee with respect to the administration of a Trust.