St. Louis Probate & Estate Administration

What Is Estate Administration?

Estate Administration is the court process of settling a deceased person's legal affairs and distributing their final assets (an asset is anything a person owns - bank and checking accounts, personal property, vehicles, stocks and other investments, real estate, a small business, etc.) which are subject to court jurisdiction. A person's "estate" consists of all the assets they owned at the time of their death.

The estate administration process involves the court appointing a personal representative or executor, whose duty it is to make sure, sometimes with significant court supervision, that, among other things: 1) all estate assets are collected and accounted for, 2) all valid claims of the estate are pursued, 3) all proper debts of the estate are paid, and 4) assets are distributed to the proper persons, organizations, or other entities.

Based on the complexities and potential complications involved, most courts require that a personal representative is represented by an attorney throughout the estate administration process. Probate can be time-consuming and costly, so estate planning often aims to avoid it or otherwise minimize its impact.

What Assets Have To Go Through Probate?

Not all assets a person owns at the time of their death are required to go through the estate administration process - only assets whose ownership doesn't automatically transfer upon their death.

Some instances where the ownership of assets transfers automatically upon the death of the owner, thereby avoiding being subject to probate, include: 1) assets that are jointly owned, 2) financial accounts with beneficiary designations, 3) vehicles subject to transfer on death designations, and 4) real estate subject to beneficiary deeds.

Another popular way of avoiding assets being subject to estate administration is by using trusts. A trust is a legal arrangement where assets are held and managed by a "trustee" for the benefit of "beneficiaries." Both the trustee and the beneficiaries are chosen by the creator of the trust, known as the "trustor."

How Long Does Probate Last?

The time to administer an estate depends on several factors, including the number, type, and value of assets involved; the level of cooperation among the deceased person's heirs and beneficiaries; whether court supervision is required; and whether the estate has valid claims against others or others make claims against the estate, among other things.  

Generally, the estate administration process takes longer than one year to complete. However, if the value of an estate is below a certain dollar amount, and other specific conditions are met, special procedures can allow for the distribution of an estate's assets in half the time.

How Much Does Estate Administration Cost?

Just like determining the timeline for estate administration, the cost to administer an estate can vary based on several factors, including the number, type, and value of assets involved; the number of heirs and beneficiaries, whether their locations are known, and whether any disputes arise between them; whether the court allows independent administration; and whether valid estate claims need to be pursued or whether claims against the estate must be defended against, among other things.

Generally, the cost to administer an estate worth $100,000 or less will total a few thousand dollars. The cost to administer more valuable and complicated estates normally ends up totaling between 2% and 5% of the estate's net value. If there is litigation involved in administering an estate, costs can increase substantially.

At Wayfinder Law, you will receive an upfront and clear quote before we enter any legal services agreement. The fee can be fixed (a set, flat-rate fee), hourly based, or, in rare circumstances, contingent upon the amount recovered through a claim made on behalf of the estate.

How Can Wayfinder Law Help With Probate?

At Wayfinder Law, our job is to help you through the process of settling a loved one's affairs and their estate. We will provide you with the compassion, information, guidance, and help you need to get you through the process in an organized, efficient, and timely manner.

We understand the sorrow you face when a loved one dies - we've been there. Mourning a loved one's death is emotionally and often physically draining. Having to face the unknown, complex, and confusing tasks involved with putting their final personal and financial affairs in order only adds misery to an already terrible situation.

What Our Clients Say

"Overall great experience... Their level of service was top notch (including outside of normal business bours)."
John R.
"I wholeheartedly recommend Wayfinder Law! Joe has ... depth of knowledge, an approachable demeanor, and unwavering patience."
Suruda N.
"They walked us through our options and helped guide us to make sure we made the best decisions for our situation."
Lisa S.
"We were very happy with our experience. Joe was very thorough and explained everything very clearly."
Nikhil D.
"Everyone involved was very prompt and professional. I will always visit this law firm when in need. Excellent service!"
Kevin K.
"Highly recommend working with Wayfinder Law!  Joe was extremely knowledgeable and personable."
James S.
"He’s personable gentleman with a humble caring spirit. I felt heard, understood and compassion."
Janice M.
"Thank you for your quick response to my situation and for directing me in the right path to take."
Frank J.
"It was a success! Thanks, Joe. Whenever I called he returned my calls in a very reasonable time frame."
Ken B.

Our Promise

Losing a loved one is life-changing. During such a difficult time, Wayfinder Law’s goal is to help you get through the estate administration process in a caring, straightforward, and timely manner. To do this, as you probate attorney, your we promise to:
Truly listen & learn about your unique situation & specific concerns
Communicate with you about your matter in a timely, understandable manner
Treat you how we would want to be treated

Working With Us Is Easy.

  • Free, Confidential Consultations
  • Straightforward, No Surprise Fees
  • 5-Star Reviewed
  • Explanations in Plain English
  • In Person, Video, or Phone Conferences
  • Client Satisfaction Promise
  • Contact Us 24/7
  • We Follow the Golden Rule

Are We a Match?

Wayfinder Law is not for everyone. While we work hard to make our clients’ experiences as seamless, efficient, and satisfying as possible, clients need to be motivated and involved in the process. So that we can provide all of our clients with the best possible service and outcome, we only work with people who:
  • Truly care about achieving their legal goals
  • Tell the truth and expect the truth from us
  • Treat others with respect
  • Understand that they have an active role in achieving their legal goals
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
We Can Meet With You in Person, on the Phone, or by Video Conference!

Have Questions? Call Toll-Free: 1-833-WAYFIND

Pick a Time for a Free Case Review.

*DISCLAIMER: The materials contained on this website are for general informational purposes only and are not intended as and should not be considered  legal advice. The information and materials are not intended to create, and the consuming and viewing of them does not create, an attorney-client relationship. Likewise, any submission of information to this website, such as through a request for a consultation or the submission of a question, does not create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship with an attorney associated with Wayfinder Law is created only upon the attorney and potential client signing a written legal services agreement, which agreement details the scope of any legal representation. If you have a particular legal issue or problem, consult and communicate directly with an attorney, so that the specifics and full details of your unique situation and the potentially applicable laws, rules and regulations can be discussed, before taking any action related to such issue or problem. Prior results do not guarantee similar future results. This is attorney advertising. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.
Free Case ReviewText UsCall Now