Probate Law: Everything You Need to Know

The word probate is likely a term that you have heard of when it comes to a person’s will or lack thereof. You have probably heard that avoiding probate is beneficial if you have done any research surrounding estate planning, wills and trusts. If you find that you are in a situation where probate is necessary following the death of a loved one, it will be important to have an understanding of the process.


When the court must get involved to settle a person’s final business they must endure the probate process. Through this process, the court will handle a person’s final matters. Most of the time, the process is in place to prove the existence of a will and carry out its’ terms. The state will determine how a person’s assets will be distributed if there is no will in place. The following are steps that are taken throughout the court process:

  • The initiation of probate occurs when a petition is filed with probate court. Often, this will be in the area where the person who passed away lived.
  • The petition will request one of two things:
    1. That the court validate the will
    2. If there isn’t a will in place, the request will be for the court to distribute assets
  • An estate executor will be appointed
  • Notice will be posted that the will is in probate in the event that any creditors or potential heirs choose to stake a claim
  • Following a waiting period, the estate will be distributed to beneficiaries

Challenging Probate Proceedings

In most situations, wills are not contested. In some situations, a person may challenge the validity of a will. An attorney may do this by claiming that the will was forged or that it was written under duress. The court will be required to make a decision if someone challenges the will.

Can Probate Be Avoided?

Many will want to avoid probate because it can be costly and the distributions of assets can take much longer. In some situations, probate can be avoided when a trust is created. A trust will allow for an administrator to quickly distribute assets and protect beneficiaries from future claims. In some situations, probate will be beneficial in protecting new owners from any future claims.  

A probate lawyer O’Fallon MO turns to can help you to make decisions when is comes to probate. With the assistance of an attorney, they can help you to sort through any complex situations that you may encounter such as disputing a will’s validity, or removing an executor or administrator. An attorney will be able to help you with the best way to move forward.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Legacy Law Center for their insight into probate law.