As discussed previously, Wills do not avoid the probate process. Instead, they act as a guiding light through the probate process by honoring a decedent’s wishes. The court, however, does not carry out the decedent’s wishes by physically distributing property or paying off any expenses. That responsibility generally rests with a personal representative/executor (via letters testamentary or letters of administration). The court can either supervise the representative’s estate administration, or let him or her administer the estate independently. Independent Administration is certainly the more popular route. But, how is it granted?
Most commonly, a will provides for independent administration pursuant to section 473.780(1), RSMo, whereby a testator authorizes the nominated personal representative to proceed with independent administration. There are, though, instances when independent administration can be granted without a will authorizing it. Under 473.780(2), RSMo, all of the “heirs” with an interest in the estate may consent in writing to independent administration — unless the will explicitly prohibits it.
Once independent administration has been granted by a court, it is not irrevocable. Indeed, revocation may be ordered by the court if there is a hearing ordered under section 473.833(4). These hearings must be initiated by a petition from an interested heir. The court will make the decision whether to proceed with independent administration based on whether the estate is being administered properly.