Q: both parents deceased no paperwork for beneficiaries. What do we do?
A: The easy answer is call an attorney and spend an hour determining what your parents left in the way of assets, then follow the attorney's advice. That is the first step.
Often our parents leave a variety of types of assets - life insurance, retirement accounts, investment accounts, homes, real estate, bank accounts, etc. , etc. Some of these accounts and policies have named beneficiaries and it may be no more involved than filling out some forms, providing idenification, and a certified copy of a death certificate. Other assets may have been held only in the deceased person's name with no predetermined beneficiary. In those instances, some sort of probate court action will be required. Missouri has a Small Estate procedure available wherw the assets are less than $40,000.00. A "small estate" can generally be wrapped up in about 90 days. A "full" probate estate is required for larger estates and typically if real estate is involved. A full probate estate will usually take at least a year to administer, and gives notice and allows creditors time to file claims. In St. Louis County you will need to have an attorney for a probate court proceeding. You have one year from the date of the deceased person's death to open a probate estate, so you do not want to delay.
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