Probate Law

Michael P. Dreiling is an experienced and accomplished probate attorney in both Missouri and Kansas. In addition to being a member of probate law committees in Kansas City and Johnson County, Mr. Dreiling has been a presenter at a Missouri probate CLE and was named a Missouri and Kansas 2008 Rising Star in Probate and Estate Planning.
All states have probate, and all the types of property that make up your estate — real and personal — may be part of your estate’s probate. Tangible and intangible personal property, like your collectibles and your stock portfolio, are probated in the state where you live, but your real estate is probated where the property is actually located. Your probate estate is made up of all the property that’s distributed through probate; the remaining property is called nonprobate property.

Many people think that probate applies to you only if you have a will. That is not correct. Your estate will be probated whether or not you have a will.

With a valid will: If you have a valid will, then your will determines how your estate is transferred during probate and to whom.

Without a valid will: If you don’t have a will, or if you die partially intestate, where only part of your estate is covered by a valid will, the intestate succession laws in Kansas and Missouri specify who gets what parts of your estate.

Once it is determined a probate estate is needed, the will, if there is one, must be filed with the probate court in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death, generally within 6 months of date of death.

Once the petition to probate a will and administer a testate estate, or an intestate estate if no will, has been filed, notice must be published to notify all creditors and any unknown heirs/interested parties of the estate administration. The creditor claims statute is four months in Kansas and six months in Missouri.

Once the petition has been filed, the executor of the will or the personal representative of the estate will account for the probate assets, file an inventory within thirty days of appointment, marshal all the assets, pay legitimate claims of the decedent, liquidate assets, distribute assets pursuant to specific bequests in the will, make annual accountings, file a determination of distribution with the probate court, once all assets are distributed, the estate is ready to be closed.

Both Kansas and Missouri have simplified estate procedures for the informal administration of estates if called for in the will or if the value of the estate is small, generally $40,000 or less.