ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
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What Our Clients Say:

"I would definitely recommend Wayfinder Law Offices.  They were very professional and thorough while representing me.  Any more legal needs I may have, Wayfinder Law is where I'm calling for help." - Aaron C., Google Review 
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"Overall great experience.  Wayfinder Law helped my family with our estate planning and ultimately a whole lot more...  I  look forward to working with Wayfinder again in the future."  - John R., Google Review 
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"We knew we had to make plans for our estate, but didn't know where to start.  Wayfinder Law made the process so simple... They walked us through our options and helped guide us to make sure we were making the best decisions for our situation.  I have also utilized their expertise for litigation which was also extremely professional and thorough.  We would highly recommend the law firm for both."  - Lisa S., Google Review 
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Our Promise To You

Administering An Estate Or Having To Deal With Probate Court Is Complicated And Overwhelming. Wayfinder Law’s Goal Is To Handle Your Needs And Make Your Legal Experience As Positive As Possible. To Do This, We Promise To:

• Truly listen and learn about your unique situation and legal concerns,

• Answer your questions in a clear, understandable manner,

• Be upfront and honest about your legal matter,

• Keep you informed of important developments,

• Treat you how we would want to be treated, and

• Do great work.

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Probate & Estate Administration Help

After the death of a loved one, you shouldn’t have to worry about how to settle their estate. Probate is a complicated court process where a deceased person’s last will and testament,  is “proven,” or determined to be authentic, and the deceased person’s property is distributed according to the terms of the will (after paying valid debts, taxes, and other expenses). If the deceased person did not have a will, the court will distribute their property to surviving heirs according to state law. Hiring a probate attorney is required in most instances. 

In most instances, probate is a process best avoided (through a good estate plan), as it can be costly and drawn out. However, if probate is required following the death of your loved one, we are ready to be your attorney and guide you through this process in a caring, thoughtful, and efficient manner.

Frequently Asked Questions

Settling a person’s estate involves paying off all of a person’s debts, taxes, and other liabilities and then distributing any remaining assets. If the deceased person (the decedent) left a will, the will is submitted to a probate court, and assets will be distributed as directed in the will. If there is no will, the assets will be distributed to the decedent’s heirs, as directed by state law.  

The two chief difficulties in settling an estate are identifying and locating all of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities and complying with the technical legal requirements for the satisfaction of debts and the distribution of the remaining assets.  Identifying and locating will beneficiaries or heirs, family disputes, and lawsuits can also prove difficult and time consuming.   

Probate is the court process for settling a deceased person’s estate. The process tends to be time-consuming and expensive. Successfully navigating the probate process requires following numerous technical legal requirements, preparing much paperwork, and occasionally appearing in court.  

Typically, unless a person’s has few assets, it makes sense to prepare an estate plan that avoids probate.

An executor (in Illinois) or personal representative (in Missouri) is the person the deceased individual chose, in their will, to oversee the settling of their estate. Depending on the size and complexity of an estate, the probate process and carrying out this obligation can be stressful, frustrating, and time-consuming. Wayfinder Law can guide you though the probate process.  

A trustee is a person (though certain institutions can also serve as a trustee) who has been named by the creator of a trust (the trustor) to handle the property in the trust for the benefit of specific persons, companies, or organizations (the beneficiaries). The trust document contains instructions on how the trust property should be handled, but the trustee is responsible for using due care to protect and distribute the property. Breaching their legal or fiduciary duties can expose a trustee to personal liability.  

Trustors typically choose trusted family members or friends to serve as a trustee. However, given the complexity and stress which can come with administering a trust, trustors can choose attorneys or other trust professionals for this job, sparing their loved ones this task. 

If you don’t have experience serving as a trustee and don’t care to learn the intricacies involved, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney to advise you on your specific responsibilities and duties. 

Trying to handle all of the details required to settle an estate or administer a trust can be overwhelming, particularly if you are in the midst of grieving. At Wayfinder Law in Missouri and Illinois, we rely on thoroughness, expertise, and compassion in order to guide clients through this difficult process. You don’t need to personally pay for our assistance, as our fees are paid from the estate or trust property.

The length can vary significantly, from several months for a simple, small estate to several years or (much) longer.  Again, this chiefly depends on the size and complexity of the estate and if any disputes arise. If there are disputes over the settling of an estate, or if the estate is being sued, litigation can add years to this process.  

The cost to settle an estate depends chiefly upon the size of the assets in the estate.  In Missouri personal representative fees and attorney fees are fixed by statute. The fees (which are graduated) are a percentage of the size of the assets in the estate, with the larger the estate, the smaller the percentage fee. Fees start at 5% and decrease to 2% for large estates. In Illinois, attorney fees are similar, but not expressly set by statute. Court costs, bond costs, appraisal fees, accounting fees, and other miscellaneous costs also add to the expense. 

Typically, spending a few thousand dollars on an estate plan which acts to avoid probate will save many times this amount of money in the long run.   

Probate can be avoided by utilizing a number of methods as part of a comprehensive estate plan. Depending upon the types of assets you own, trusts, beneficiary designations, beneficiary deeds, tenancy by the entirety, joint tenancy, payable on death transfers, and payable on death accounts are the most commonly used methods to avoid probate.

First, have a well thought our estate plan in place.  Being able to avoid probate is almost always a good idea.  With good planning, oftentimes all or most of a person’s assets can pass to the intended beneficiaries with little trouble or expense.  

Also, should your your estate end up in probate, or should you utilize one or more trusts, you want to have selected competent executors, personal representatives, and trustees.  If you have no family member or close friend you believe is up to the task, or if you don’t want to bother your family or friends with this task, utilize an attorney or other estate professional. 

Also,  organization is key.  Below is a list of some helpful tips:

Keep a list of your: 1) billed accounts – such as utilities, cable, cell phone, credit cards, car payments, house payments, insurance, and other debt obligations; 2) financial institutions used; and 3) email and social media accounts (with instructions for what you want done with them).   

Keep a list of any professionals you work with, such as your lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, etc.  

Store all important documents, such as estate planning documents (your attorney should also have a copy of these), deeds, property titles, social security card, and birth certificate in one place.  

Have instructions in place about who should be contacted about your death, what funeral arrangements you prefer, and your obituary preferences, etc. 

Storing the above items in a bank deposit box or with trusted family or friends, and having extra copies of the original documents, are good options.  

After you die, your loved ones will be able to quickly access your key personal and financial information, and this will allow them to more fully carry out your wishes and more easily settle your estate.

Let Us Handle This

If all or part of your loved one’s estate must pass through the probate process in Missouri or Illinois, and if you have been named by a will or appointed by a court to be the executor, administrator, or personal representative to settle your loved one’s estate, your first thoughts are typically ones of confusion and dread (on top of the difficult emotions you’re already experiencing).  

While it is sometimes possible in certain situations for a person to administer an estate (or serve as a trustee for a trust) on their own, that doesn’t mean it should be done. Save yourself the stress, headaches, and time involved in this process and avoid making mistakes – hire a local probate attorney. After a loved one dies is not the time to learn the intricacies of probate law or trust administration. 

At Wayfinder Law, a law firm with offices in St. Louis, Missouri, and Belleville, Illinois, our goal is to make your life easier by administering your loved one’s estate as efficiently and as timely as possible. Moreover, our fees are paid from the estate funds, not your pocket. You have enough going on now – let us help.

Leading You To
Peace Of Mind

Missouri Location

7777 Bonhomme Ave., #1800

St. Louis, MO  63105

Phone: 314-312-1111

Toll Free: 833-929-3463

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Office Hours

Mon. to Fri. 9:00 am – 5 pm

Special Appointments Available

Available By Phone 24/7

Illinois Location

1 S. Church St., #500

Belleville, IL  62220

Phone: 618-726-9000

Toll Free: 833-929-3463

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Office Hours

Mon. to Fri. 9:00 am – 5 pm

Special Appointments Available

Available By Phone 24/7