What steps need to be taken for someone to open an estate in probate?

Asked almost 5 years ago - Kansas City, MO

In the state of Missouri, what documents, and what steps need to be taken to open an estate in probate? Is a lawyer needed to open an estate in probate? Is the person that opens the estate in probate automatically appointed as the administrator or personal respresentative of the estate or can a neutral third party be appointed by the probate court? Can all siblings of the deceased require DNA testing to ensure the estate is being distributed to true heirs?

Additional information

OK, I guess the DNA testing question was too much for anyone to touch this question, so forget that one and please answer any or all of the other questions. I am getting so much conflicting information. One lawyer tells me that whoever opens the estate in probate is automatically the ersonal representative of the estate, another tells me that a probate judge will be needed to appoint a nuetral party as representative, another tells me that a home could be held in the estate and someone can live in it with the estate paying for the expenses. Can someone please help?

Attorney answers (1)

  1. David Preston Crandall

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . Opening a probate estate is done by filing opening documents with the court. The exact type of documents that need to be filed depend on the value of the estate, who the petitioner is, and whether there is a will.

    Yes, a lawyer is needed to open a probate estate.

    No, the person who opens the estate (signs the petition to probate) is not automatically appointed as the administrator. The court will appoint the person who is most appropriate depending on (1) what the will, if any says and (2) what family or other interested persons might be willing and able to serve. If you have an interest in the estate, you can request to be appointed as the personal representative, but that does not mean you will automatically be appointed.

    If there is some question about whether potential heirs are really entitled to a share of the estate, you can contest their eligibility. They would then need to demonstrate to the court's satisfaction that they are eligible as heirs (or children), which might include DNA testing.

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