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“Interested Persons” Under Missouri Probate

In Missouri, Probate proceedings are typically handled under a separate set of rules than typical civil litigation cases. Most of the Missouri Supreme Court Rules do not apply in probate proceedings and practitioners will tell you that the policies in probate courts vary from county to county. Traditional probate proceedings in Missouri relate to guardianships, conservatorships, estate administration and trust/will litigation. 

Whether a party has standing to appeal a probate case is subject to an additional layer of analysis. “Interested persons” aggrieved by judgments are entitled to appeal final orders or judgments of the probate court. Section 472.160.1, RSMo; Estate of Davis, 954 S.W.2d 374, 379 (Mo. App. E.D. 1997). Who are “interested persons”? They are heirs, spouses, creditors, or any others having a property right or claim against the estate of a decedent being administered and includes children of a protectee who may have a property right or claim against or an interest in the estate of a protectee. Section 472.010(15), RSMo. Courts have been reluctant to broaden the statutory definition of an interested person. Instead, courts typically limit the definition of “interested persons” to those with a financial interest in the estate and have rejected attempts to extend appellate standing to individuals with a“purely sentimental or filial interest.”

The reason this is important is that because probate proceedings will typically implicate immediate and extended family members. Under the current statutory scheme, however, such an interest is insufficient unless that individual has a financial interest in an estate. Is is critical to consult adequate legal counsel to understand your rights with respect to probate proceedings and determine whether you have standing to protect/appeal probate judgments.

Contact with questions relating to guardianships, conservatorships, wills, trusts, estates or other probate proceedings.