Refusal of Letters

There are two types of refusal letters provided by Missouri statute to dispense with the probate process:

  1. Refusal of letters to a surviving spouse or unmarried minor children; and
  2. Refusal of letters to a creditor.

Refusal of letters of a surviving spouse or unmarried minor children
Section 473.090 RSMO sets forth the process by which to refuse to issue letters, namely, when to refuse to appoint a personal representative for the estate of the decedent. Section 473.090 RSMO allows for a refusal of letters to the surviving spouse or unmarried minor children when the value of the decedent’s estate is not greater in an amount as exempt property, as set forth under Section 474.250 RSMO, and the allowance for maintenance to the surviving spouse or unmarried minor children as per Section 474.260 RSMO.

Section 474.250 RSMO provides that the exempt property, regardless of value, belongs to the surviving spouse, or if there is no surviving spouse, to the unmarried minor children. Section 474.260 RSMO provides that in setting the amount of the support allowance, the court may consider the previous standard of living of the applicant, the condition of the estate, the income and other assets available to the applicant.

The statutes regarding a refusal of letters to the surviving spouse or unmarried minor children do not specify a maximum dollar limit on the value of the assets that can be included when utilizing a refusal. Local court rules, however, might impose limits on the dollar amounts that can be included when utilizing a refusal of letters.

Refusal of Letters to a Creditor
Section 473.090.2 RSMO limits the use of a refusal of letters to a creditor. The Statute provides that the estate of the decedent cannot be greater than fifteen thousand dollars and the refusal cannot be utilized if there is a widow, widower or unmarried minor children. Also, the court may require that a bond be posted before granting the refusal. Section 473.090.6 RSMO also allows for any person to apply for refusal if they have paid the funeral expenses or the debts of the decedent.

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