29th Judicial Circuit Court

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of probate?

Think of all the items you own that have a title. Your home, cars, boats, motors, trailers, etc. This property cannot be sold until your signature is on the back of the title or you sign over the deed to that property. When a person dies leaving assets that are titled in their name alone, someone has to be given the authority to transfer these assets. This is where the Probate Division comes in.

Does everyone's estate have to go through probate?

No. There are many ways to avoid the necessity of your family having to deal with a probate estate. Assets that are titled jointly, payable on death, transferable on death, with rights of survivorship, etc. generally do not need to go through probate. Many people now create trusts and place all of their assets into that trust to avoid probate. On occasion, assets are forgotten to be included into the trust. Those assets left only in the decedent’s name will have to go through probate.

What if there is no will?

If a person dies without leaving a will, yet there are assets titled in their name alone, the Court will appoint a Personal Representative and assets are distributed equally among the heirs.

If I have a will that says I am the executor, can I do as the will says without probate?

Many people think that if they are named as the executor in their loved one’s will, they can distribute all of the assets without going through probate. However, the will is just a grocery list until it is admitted into the Probate Court. Only the Court can appoint an administrator. The Last Will and Testament exists to give the Court guidance on the decedent’s wishes.

If a person dies leaving a Last Will and Testament, the will must be admitted to probate, letters are issued, and a Personal Representative is appointed to administer the assets of the estate of the deceased person. The Personal Representative is responsible for inventorying these assets, paying estate expenses, and distributing the remaining assets at the end of the administration as the will provides. A notice is published to state an estate has been opened and to notify any creditors to file claims. After six months, a final accounting showing what assets remain to be distributed to the heirs is required and time is allowed for any objections to be filed.

Do I have to file the will in probate even if there are no assets to transfer?

The Missouri Statutes require that a Last Will and Testament must be filed with the Probate Division. There is no filing fee required to file a will. However, the will is not a valid document unless it is admitted to probate within one year from the date of death. If assets are found after that year has expired, they may not be distributed as directed by the will. Instead they will be distributed pursuant to the Table of Consanguinity

What if the value of the assets is minimal?

If estate assets are valued at less that $40,000.00, a small estate may be all that is needed. This is a short form of probate normally open from approximately one to forty days.

Is probate short for probation?

No. Probation is usually associated solely with criminal cases.

Is the Public Administrator’s Office located in the Probate Office?

No. The Public Administrator is appointed on many of our probate estates when family members are unable or unwilling to serve as a Guardian/Conservator or Personal Representative. The Public Administrator is an elected official of Jasper County and has a staff located in a separate county office.

What forms of payments are acceptable to the Courts?

We accept personal checks, money orders, and cashier checks. These should be made payable to: Jasper County Probate Division. We also accept cash, however, please do not send cash through the mail. We do not accept debit/credit cards.

How do I obtain copies from case files and what is the cost?

Copies may be obtained by coming in to the Probate office in person or you may also submit a written request to:

Jasper County Probate Division
302 S. Main, Courthouse Room 206
Carthage, MO 64836

The cost for copies is $1.00 per page (plus $1.50 extra to certify documents). Copies requested by mail will be returned at the earliest convenience.
We also have an office located in Room 216 in the Joplin Courts Building at 6th & Pearl in Joplin, Missouri. However, since all files are maintained in the Jasper County Courthouse office in Carthage, copies available from the Joplin location are minimal.


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