Skip to Content

Top 5 Probate Issues That Personal Representatives Face in Missouri

Thu 23 May, by on Probate

Top 5 Probate Issues That Personal Representatives Face in Missouri

Navigating the probate process in Missouri can be complex and fraught with challenges, especially for personal representatives (often referred to as executors). These individuals bear the responsibility of managing and settling a deceased person’s estate. Here are the top five probate issues that personal representatives commonly encounter in Missouri.

1. Understanding and Complying with Missouri Probate Laws

Missouri probate laws can be intricate and demanding. Personal representatives must understand and adhere to state-specific legal requirements to ensure the probate process progresses smoothly. Key aspects include:

  • Filing the Will: The personal representative must file the deceased’s will with the appropriate probate court within the county where the deceased resided.
  • Securing a Bond: Some counties is Missouri (St. Louis County, St. Louis City) required the Personal Representative to secure a bond for an independent and independent administration. 
  • Opening the Estate: This involves submitting a petition to the court to open the estate for probate, which includes providing an amount for the decedent’s real estate and personal property assets.

Failure to comply with these requirements can result in delays, additional costs, and potential legal issues.

2. Asset Identification and Valuation

Identifying and valuing the deceased’s assets is one of the most challenging tasks for personal representatives. This process involves:

  • Locating Assets: This includes everything from bank accounts and real estate to personal belongings and investment portfolios. Some assets may be difficult to find if they were not well-documented by the deceased.
  • Appraising Assets: Certain assets, like real estate or valuable personal property, require professional appraisal to determine their fair market (date-of-death) value. Accurate valuation is crucial for equitable distribution and for calculating any applicable taxes.

Missteps in this area can lead to disputes among beneficiaries and potential financial losses.

3. Managing Debts and Liabilities

Personal representatives must address the deceased’s outstanding debts and liabilities before distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries. This process involves:

  • Paying Debts: All valid claims (that are timely filed and proved up with sufficient evidence) against the estate must be paid, including funeral expenses, medical bills, and credit card debts.
  • Resolving Disputes: Occasionally, personal representatives might face disputes from creditors or beneficiaries regarding the validity or amount of certain claims.

Ensuring that all debts are settled appropriately is essential to avoid personal liability and to ensure the estate is closed properly.

4. Tax Obligations

Managing tax obligations is another critical aspect of the probate process. Personal representatives must:

  • File Final Income Tax Returns: The deceased’s final federal and state income tax returns must be filed, and any taxes due must be paid.
  • Estate Taxes: Although Missouri does not have a state estate tax, personal representatives may need to address federal estate tax obligations if the estate exceeds the federal exemption limit.

Failure to meet tax obligations can result in penalties and interest, complicating the probate process further.

5. Handling Disputes and Litigation

Disputes and litigation can arise during probate, often involving:

  • Will Contests: Beneficiaries or potential heirs might challenge the validity of the will based on claims of undue influence, lack of capacity, or improper execution.
  • Family Disputes: Conflicts among family members over asset distribution can lead to prolonged litigation and emotional distress.
  • Creditor Claims: Disputes with creditors over the validity or amount of claims can also lead to court battles.

Personal representatives must be prepared to handle these disputes professionally, often requiring legal counsel to navigate complex litigation.


Serving as a personal representative in Missouri’s probate process involves significant responsibilities and potential challenges. Understanding and preparing for the complexities of probate law, asset management, debt resolution, tax obligations, and potential disputes is essential for effectively managing a deceased person’s estate. By addressing these common probate issues proactively, personal representatives can help ensure a smoother and more efficient probate process.

For those facing the daunting task of navigating probate, consulting with an experienced probate attorney can provide invaluable guidance and support, helping to mitigate potential pitfalls and ensure compliance with Missouri’s legal requirements.

Scroll To Top