Probate Attorney in Independence, Missouri

women staring off into the distance

What is Probate?

Probate is the court process that takes place upon someone’s death. The purpose of the probate process is to distribute the assets of a decedent’s estate, pay creditors, and pay other applicable taxes. The probate process can be very complex and requires expert counsel to navigate. William Stilley has specialized in probate administration since 1987. 

What if I have a will?

When someone dies with a will in place, called testate, the probate court follows the instructions laid out in the will to distribute the assets and pay taxes. The responsibility of administering the estate through the probate process falls upon the personal representative of the estate. Personal representatives used to be referred to as executors and executrixes. The process is greatly streamlined and simplified when someone dies testate. 

Trusted Probate Attorney

Call Today

What if I don’t have a will?

However, dying without a will, called intestate, is a far more common occurrence. The American Bar Association estimates that 55% of Americans die intestate. Dying intestate comes with a host of issues. Without a will dictating how an estate should be distributed, the Probate Court has to follow the State’s Laws of Inheritance and Intestacy. This is not ideal because it cuts the decedent’s family or loved ones out of the decision. It also cuts the family out of deciding who should be the personal representative of the estate. This could cause a lot of issues. But, as mentioned, intestacy is, unfortunately, the norm rather than the exception. An experienced attorney is especially needed in a situation of intestacy. 

Not only is an attorney needed to guide the family through the probate process, there are also a lot of legal procedures that occur throughout the process. The attorney has to file a multitude of motions and petitions. This can be a lengthy process. Depending on the size of the estate, probate can take anywhere from 6 months to two years. This is why it is so important to properly plan your estate.

How can Stilley Law Office help?

At Stilley Law Office, we offer a full suite of probate administration services, but we do not handle probate litigation. What we do handle includes but is not limited to: Initial probate filings with the court upon a decedent’s death, estate inventories and accountings, small estate affidavits, opening formal estates, personal representative appointments, will filings, petitions for determination of heirship, and many other services. You can trust Stilley Law Office to keep your family’s best interests at the forefront of the process.