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Removing or replacing a personal representative

| Sep 11, 2019 | Estate Planning |

A person’s choice of their personal representative may be one of the most important decisions involved in the estate planning process. This is the individual (or in the same cases, the parties) that will be charged with ensuring that one’s final wishes are carried out to their exact specifications. Thus, one should be sure that the person(s) they select are aptly capable of fulfilling the role. Still, circumstances may occur which necessitate the removal of a personal representative during the estate administration process. 

Per Section 473.139 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes, a personal representative may petition to resign from the role. They typically will have to show to the court that they have good cause for doing so, and such an act cannot be done until they have filed their final settlement with the court as per state law. A personal representative who intends to resign from the position does not have to give those party to the estate prior notice of their intention to do so. 

People who are party to an estate can also petition the court to have a personal representative removed. Section 473.140 of the state’s statutes lists the reasons one might be disqualified from serving in such a role as: 

  • Mental incapacity 
  • Being convicted of a felony (or another infamous crime)
  • Being a habitual drunkard
  • Failing to discharge the duties of the office
  • Wasting or mismanaging the estate
  • Acting in a way that endangers a corepresentative

If the position of personal representative is vacated in an estate case, the court will follow any directions that a settlor includes in their will regarding how to replace someone in the role. If their are no such instructions, then the court will typically appoint an new personal representative from those with interests in the estate.