Without expertise in estate planning, it can be difficult to know and understand the best way to distribute an inheritance in Missouri. In this blog, we want to better educate you about Missouri inheritance laws, tax filings, passing with or without a will, and how to get more estate planning information.

Spouses & Children Inheritance Laws

First, let’s start with spouse inheritance laws. Spouses are legally entitled to the full estate if no children are living, according to Missouri inheritance law. 

A spouse is entitled to the first $20,000 in value of the estate and 50% of the balance of the estate if they have children and those children will receive the remainder. If stepchildren are present that are not from your spouse, the latter gets 50% of the estate and the stepchildren receive the remaining half.

For children in Missouri with a living spouse, 50% of the estate is distributed equally between the children of each spouse. Stepchildren of the deceased get 50% of the estate, while the spouse receives the other half.

Unmarried Individuals Without Children 

The estate is divided up evenly among the deceased’s parents or siblings. If they have parents but no siblings (or spouses or children), then the entire estate goes to the parents. The same goes for if they have siblings but no surviving parents (and no spouse or children). Then, the entire estate is split up evenly among their siblings.

What Tax Filings Are Necessary?

Though Missouri has no inheritance or estate tax, there are other taxes needed filed on behalf of the deceased. These taxes may include federal estate tax, federal and state income tax returns, or inheritance taxes for another state. 

Passing With or Without a Will

While many individuals pass with a will in place, many do not. If you are deceased in Missouri with a valid will, all belongings, property, and other assets will be distributed according to that will. 

Missouri requires that the individual receiving the will must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. The will must also be signed by the testator and at least two witnesses, it must be written (with a few exceptions), and must indicate a beneficiary.

If someone is deceased without a will, a much more complex process takes place. The deceased’s estate is distributed according to Missouri’s intestate succession law and provides help with how the estate is distributed with no surviving spouse or children. Most importantly, if you die without a will in Missouri, your entire estate must pass through probate – a very expensive and long process. 

Estate Planning With a Professional

Estate planning is a complicated process, so professional help may be needed. At Brydon, Swearengen & England P.C., we offer a variety of representation for estate planning in Jefferson City and the surrounding Missouri region. 

Whether you need assistance with large or small estate matters or have a family member or loved one who may need legal advice, our experienced estate planning attorneys can help. 

Contact us today to receive the help you need during this time.