Probate Bonds & Estate Administration

One of the more unfavorable aspects of probate in Missouri is the bond requirement. In short, before an applicant receives Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary to become personal representative of a decedent’s estate, Missouri law requires that ” [the personal representative] shall execute and file a bond […] procured at the expense of the estate, with sufficient security, in an amount fixed by the judge or clerk for the protection of interested parties.” RSMo 473.157. The bond is in place to protected other heirs and creditors of the estate so that there are funds present in case the personal representative mismanages the estate. More often than not, in the City of Saint Louis and surrounding counties, the amount of the bond is usually equivalent to the amount of the personal property in the estate. Real estate is often not considered because there is little risk that real property can be mismanaged.  The bond can usually be either cash or surety and, as the statute states, can be paid for out of the estate’s funds.
Because obtaining a bond is somewhat time-consuming, costly, and aggravating, it is advisable to determine if statutory exceptions apply. Generally, under RSMo 473.160, a bond may not be required when (1) the Will states expressly that no bond is required, (2) when a corporation which at the time of its appointment by the court  has a certificate of the director of finance of Missouri that such corporation has complied with the provisions of RSMo 362.590, or  (3) the court finds that a bond is not required for the protection of interested parties.
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