Legal Expenses for Settling a Will After a Death in Missouri

by Jennifer Williams Google

The legal expenses of settling a deceased person's estate are taken directly from the estate. It is necessary to know what these expenses are since they reduce the estate's proceeds. The court clerk's office maintains a schedule of fees and costs charged by the probate court, and the Missouri Bar Association maintains lists of probate attorneys licensed to practice law in Missouri who can provide information on all other probate costs.

Administrator's Bond

The Missouri probate court may require the estate administrator or personal representative to post a bond to ensure her good-faith performance in the position. The amount is paid by the estate and is valued on a sliding scale based on the size of the estate. The bond may be waived by the terms of the will, the court on its own motion, or by a unanimous decision of the heirs.

Personal Administrator Fees

The personal administrator is appointed by the court to handle the footwork required in moving an estate through probate, but the administrator is not expected to perform this function for free. The administrator is paid according to a minimum fee schedule set by Missouri statute, which is based on the size of the estate and the amount of work the administrator must perform to see the estate to closure. The Missouri probate court may award compensation above the minimum upon its own order, or if all the beneficiaries agree that additional compensation is merited.

Court Costs and Fees

Missouri's Probate Code states that any court costs or fees incurred by the personal representative during probate are paid by the estate. This money is retained by the court to cover the cost of court time and effort in making decisions pertaining to the estate. The amount of costs and fees is set by Missouri statute and is based on the size of the estate.

Publication

Upon the opening of a Missouri probate, a personal representative gives notice to potential creditors of the deceased by publishing notice of the probate, called a "Notice to Creditors." The notice is published in a local newspaper to put creditors on notice that it is time to come forward for collection of their debts against the estate. At the end of probate, right before the estate is closed, the personal representative must publish another notice called a "Notice of Intention to File a Final Settlement or Statement of Account," putting the public on notice that the estate is about to be closed, just in case anyone has any last business pertaining to the estate. Obviously newspapers charge fees for running the advertisements, which are paid from estate assets.