Like with any fiduciary (e.g., trustee, guardian, attorney-in-fact), a conservator appointed to represent the property/assets of a minor or legally incapacitated adult may be removed for cause. Section 475.082.5, RSMo allows any “interested person” to file a motion/petition alleging that a conservator is not discharging his/her statutory responsibilities and duties or has not acted in the best interests of the protectee/ward. When such a motion is filed, the probate court may order a hearing be held and compel the conservator to appear. If the court subsequently finds the conservator is not discharging his/her duties and responsibilities as required, it may order the conservator’s removal. Note also that a court may order the removal the conservator on its own initiative, particularly as part of the annual review.
What third-parties can motion for removal of a conservator? Who is an “interested person”? As defined in section 472.010(15) interested persons mean heirs, devisees, 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. This meaning may vary at different stages and different parts of a proceeding and must be determined according to the particular purpose and matter involved. Confusingly, however, some courts have found that heirs have no standing in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings. Taylor v. Taylor, 47 S.W.3d 377, 383 (Mo. Ct. App. 2001).
Based on experience, third-party motions to a remove a conservator are rare. This is because a conservator is under the supervision of the court and most report annually as to the status of the protectee’s finances. If the court discovers a problem, it usually addresses it on its own.
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