The short answer is yes, an attorney is needed for a probate matter in Missouri. Missouri law demands the Personal Representative, also known as an executor, be represented by an attorney when taking the deceased’s estate through Probate Court. The reasoning is quite simple if you think about it. It is not possible to represent one’s self (pro se) in probate court as that person is deceased. There are some practical matters why requiring an attorney for probate in Missouri makes sense.
The most common reason a family member wants to avoid using an attorney in a probate estate is to save money. Attorney Christopher P. Cox will communicate his fee scheduled to you up front so you know the costs involved. Keep in mind that getting advice from an experienced probate attorney can often save an estate money by avoiding costly mistakes made by non-attorneys, especially tax and real estate matters.
Opening, administering and closing an estate in probate is a complex process. Knowledge of the law is needed to ensure all aspects of the estate are handled properly. This can cover a number of different areas such as locating assets, deadlines, real estate, retirement accounts, bank accounts, vehicles, tax filings on the estate’s behalf and more.
A personal representative (executor) has a fiduciary duty to “persons interested in the estate”. A personal representative could be held personally liable for any errors. As just discussed, a probate estate is a complex matter.
You may be getting the sense this will take a lot of time…it does. In fact, most people do not have the time to dedicate toward administering an estate in probate court, especially since the entire process would be new. Additionally, trying to navigate probate during the emotional hardship that follows a loved one’s death can make it even more challenging.
Probate attorney Christopher P. Cox has more than 30 years of experience and has helped countless numbers of people with all aspects of estate planning, probate and trust administration. A free consultation is available and provides a great opportunity to learn how the law applies to your specific situation.