REFUSALS OF LETTERS

There are several different ways to collect the assets of a deceased family member (“Deceased”) without the need for a long probate process known as a full estate. These options are referred to as probate shortcuts. One of the most common probate shortcuts is a refusal of letters (“Refusals”), which allows the collection of the Deceased’s solely-owned asset(s) when the value of said asset(s) is less than $15,000. In a Refusal, the probate court issues an order to the person applying (“Applicant”) which allows the Applicant to collect the Deceased’s asset(s). Usually, Refusals may be filed without the assistance of an attorney.

For more information on the types of assets that can be transferred using a Refusal of Letters, please see the section below titled “Assets.”

There are three types of Refusals: (1) a Spousal Refusal; (2) a Minor Refusal; and (3) a Creditor’s Refusal. Regardless of the type of Refusal, each is filed in the County in which the Decedent lived at the time of his death.

SPOUSE REFUSAL

Spousal Refusal – Use the Application of Surviving Spouse for Refusal of Letters when:

  1. The combined value of the Deceased’s solely-owned asset(s) (e.g., bank accounts, cars, life insurance) is less than $15,000. If the value of said assets exceeds $15,000, the Applicant may present evidence that the Deceased supported the spouse in a greater amount).
    1. Do not include assets that were jointly-titled in the name of the Decedent and another person as joint tenants with right of survivorship (JTWROS).
    2. Do not include assets which named someone as a beneficiary, pay-on-death beneficiary (POD) or transfer-on-death beneficiary (TOD).
    3. Do include assets with the designation “tenants-in-common”.
  2. The Applicant was married to the Deceased at the time of the Deceased’s death.
  3. Any of the Deceased’s minor children are also the Applicant’s minor children.
  4. DO NOT use this form if the Deceased had minor children who have a parent who is not the Applicant.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED SPOUSAL REFUSAL QUESTIONS

Q: The Deceased lived in St. Charles at the time of death but died in a hospital located in St. Louis County. The Deceased’s minor child(ren) live in St. Charles also. Where should I file the Minor Refusal?

A: File the Spousal Refusal in the County where the Deceased lived at the time of his/her death.

 

Q: The Deceased owned one car. Do I need to file a Spousal Refusal?

A: You are welcome to file a Spousal Refusal, however you may transfer one vehicle without a court order by going to your local DMV.

 

Q: The Deceased and I lived together and told people we were married. Can I collect the assets under a spousal refusal?

A:  No. The State of Missouri does not recognize common law marriages. You must be legally married to the Deceased at the time of his/her death. You should contact an attorney to explore other legal options that might be available to you.

 

Q: The Deceased was my spouse, and we had two children together who are under the age of eighteen. The Deceased also had a son who is nineteen, but I am not the father/mother of that child. Can I use the Spousal Refusal form?

A: Yes, because the non-mutual child is over the age of eighteen.

 

Q: The Deceased was my spouse, and we had two children together who are under the age of eighteen. The Deceased also had a son who is seventeen, but I am not the father/mother of that child. Can I use the Spousal Refusal form?

A:  No, because the non-mutual child is under the age of eighteen. You should contact an attorney to explore other legal options that might be available to you.

 

Q: My name is not listed as the Deceased’s spouse on the death certificate. What should I do?

A:  Please provide an affidavit with your application, explaining why your name is not listed as the Deceased’s surviving spouse on the death certificate.

 

Q: The total value of the Deceased’s solely-owned asset(s) is less than $15,000. Do I need to provide proof that I need that level of support?

A: No. Because the total value of said asset(s) is less than $15,000, you do not need to provide any additional information on the amount of support needed.

 

Q: The total value of the Deceased’s solely-owned asset(s) is more than $15,000. Do I need to provide proof that I need that level of support?

A: Yes. You will need to provide evidence that the Deceased provided you with a larger amount of support than typical. If you are unable to provide this evidence, you should contact an attorney about other legal options that might be available to you.

 

Q: My spouse died five years ago and I just found out about a bank account owned in his/her sole name. Can I file Spousal Refusal?

A: Yes. Spousal Refusals can be filed even after one year from Deceased’s date of death.

MINOR REFUSAL
CREDITOR'S REFUSAL
TYPES OF ASSETS