Effective Legal Solutions To Help People And Their Families

Your Trusted Partner In Missouri Probate And Estate Administration

When a loved one passes away, sorting out their estate is a big step. It requires navigating many legal requirements and confusing processes. Effective communication and professional guidance are crucial for ensuring a smooth and successful process. Whether you’re a family member or a personal representative in the St. Louis metropolitan area, you can turn to Schmuke Law Firm, LLC, for the trusted guidance you need.

Christie L. Schmuke is a local estate administration and probate attorney with 20-plus years of experience. With a strong background in law and finance, she has in-depth knowledge of the many nuances of estate law, including the probate process, estate and trust administration, and tax considerations.

Probate For Large And Small Estates

Missouri’s probate process varies depending on the size and complexity of the estate. For estates valued over $40,000, full probate is necessary. Smaller estates under $40,000 may qualify for a simplified small estate procedure. In some instances, such as when recovering small amounts like a refund check, a “refusal of letters” may be appropriate.

Christie can provide tailored guidance on the course of action for your loved one’s estate. She is well equipped to handle both large and small estates with the utmost care.

Tax Considerations And Trust Administration

The tax implications of probate and estate administration are often complex. Christie’s strong financial background and thorough understanding of tax law means she can navigate these intricacies with ease.

Christie is also skilled in trust administration and distribution of non-probate assets, providing complete support for families and their varied needs.

Probate And Estate Administration FAQ

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about estate administration and probate in Missouri. Contact Christie for answers to your specific questions.

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process used to transfer assets to a beneficiary after the death of the owner of those assets. It involves filing a case in the courts located in the county where the property owner lived. It may also involve filing a case in additional states for real estate located elsewhere.

What are non-probate transfers?

Non-probate transfers are essentially beneficiary designations – for example, a 401(k) plan or a life insurance policy with a form for designating a beneficiary after death. In Missouri, you can also add beneficiaries to things like vehicles, real estate, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and even business interests. These beneficiary designations transfer assets at the owner’s death without the use of probate or a last will and testament.

Will my beneficiaries be subject to tax at my death?

As every good lawyer’s answer begins, it depends. There are several taxes to consider: Federal estate taxes, state estate taxes, and income taxes.

The federal estate tax is assessed on the value of all of the assets you own at the time of your death. There is an exemption available that for 2024 is $13,610,000 per person. Once your assets exceed that level, they are taxed at a range of 18% – 40%, topping out at $1,000,000 of assets over the exemption level.

The good news, if you are a Missouri resident, is that no separate state estate tax currently applies. If the federal estate tax was ever repealed, it would be a different story. Other states do have a separate state estate tax and some even have an inheritance tax. For example, our neighbor, Illinois, does have a separate state estate tax. If you are not a Missouri resident, please reach out to a practitioner in your state to help you determine whether you will be subject to state estate or inheritance taxes.

The last type of tax to consider is income taxes. There are many aspects to this, but at a high level, most assets will transfer to your beneficiaries free of income taxes. Inheritances are not subject to income taxes. In fact, most assets will step up to fair market value as of the date of your death and so even capital gains taxes are limited when those assets are later sold by your beneficiary, trustee, or personal representative. However, some assets do not get this benefit. The main asset is retirement assets (i.e., 401(k), 403(b), IRA). These are deferred tax assets and therefore the IRS still expects to receive its income taxes as these assets pay out to the beneficiary.

Secure Tailored Guidance To Honor Your Loved One’s Wishes

Probate and estate lawyer Christie L. Schmuke can be your trusted adviser throughout the process. Learn more during a free initial consultation. Call 636-228-3657 to reach her office in St. Peters.