Probate, trust, guardianship and inheritance litigation
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Who Can Serve as Personal Representative Of a Missouri Estate?

In order to serve as the personal representative of a Missouri probate estate, the person must be:

  1. At least 18 years old; and,
  2. Of sound mind.

See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 473.117.

Who Cannot Serve As a Personal Representative In Missouri?

The following people are prohibited from serving as personal representative of a Missouri probate estate:

  1. A full-time judge of any court of this state or clerk, deputy clerk or division clerk of any court, unless the decedent was a spouse or close relative (within the third degree of relationship by consanguinity, i.e. parent, child, grandparent/child, sibling, great grandparent/grandchild, aunt or uncle, niece, or nephew).
  2. A person under the age of eighteen years or of unsound mind.
  3. A person under legal disability because of conviction of a crime.
  4. A habitual drunkard.
  5. A corporation, partnership, or association organized under the law of a state or country other than the state of Missouri or any US national banking association having its principal place of business outside the state of Missouri, except as provided in Rev. Stat. § 362.600.

Who Has Priority To Serve as Personal Representative In Missouri?

If a decedent leaves a valid will, then letters testamentary shall be granted to the personal representative designated in the will.  If the person or persons nominated in the will are not qualified to serve as personal representative under Missouri law, if the will does not name a personal representative, or if none of the persons named are able to serve, then the probate court will grant letters to other qualified persons.

In a Missouri intestate estate, the following order of priority applies to persons who can serve as personal representative:

  1. The decedent’s surviving spouse.
  2. One or more beneficiaries (not including creditors) that the court believes intends to manage and preserve the estate.
  3. If the court believes no one entitled to administer the estate is competent or suitable, another person appointed by the court.
  4. A person nominated by the decedent’s spouse or a beneficiary.

See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 473.110.

Persons entitled to preference to serve as personal representative in Missouri can renounce their priority to serve, in writing, with the clerk of the court.  Letters can then be granted to any person deemed suitable.  Mo. Rev. Stat. § 473.113.

Who Serves as Personal Representative During a Missouri Will Contest?

If the validity of the will is contested by any person, who, after a hearing in the probate division, is found to be interested in the probate of the will, the court shall grant letters of administration to the executor named in the will, if he has no beneficial interest in the estate save the compensation allowed by law to executors, upon giving bond in such amount as the court may require.  Mo. Rev. Stat. § 473.137.

If, after such hearing, it appears that the executor named in the will has an interest adverse to any such contestant of the will, the court may, in its discretion, grant letters of administration to some disinterested person or corporation, who shall give proper bond.

An administrator appointed during a will contest shall proceed with the administration of the estate until termination of the will contest, at which time he shall account to the executor or legal administrator when qualified, and, if it shall appear to the court that the decedent died possessed of real estate in the state, the court shall direct him to take charge of and manage such real estate until the termination of such will contest.

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