Who can be guardian and conservator according to Missouri law?

Estate planning could be considered a necessity in cases where a large estate needs to be looked over in detail. It is especially important in cases when the heir is a minor or a disabled person, and not necessarily capable of managing or dispensing the duties and responsibilities associated with a large estate. Therefore, in place of the minor or the disabled overseer, Missouri law may require that a guardian or conservator be appointed to oversee the administration of the estate.

Broadly speaking, a court is responsible for appointing a guardian and conservator. However, if the minor's parents are available, being the natural guardians of the minor, they are considered to be the default overseer of the minor's estate. Provided that he or she is at least 14 years of age, in the absence of the minor's parents, a court can appoint a guardian and conservator of the minor's choosing.

In the event that the law bars the minor from making the choice, a court can appoint a person nominated in the will of the last deceased parent as the guardian and conservator. In rarer circumstances when neither the minor can choose nor has a person been nominated in either parents' will, the court will make the choice, usually appointing an elder brother or sister to the position.

In the case of an incapacitated or disabled adult, he or she is allowed to choose the guardian and conservator at the estate planning stage as long as he or she is capable of presenting a reasonable choice to the court at the time of the hearing. In an instance where the disabled person is unable to make the choice, the court generally moves to nominate an individual from among his or her direct family members, relatives or friends. If no one steps forward or is capable of handling the task, the court moves to appoint the public administrator.

Source: Missouri Bar, "Probate Law Resource Guide," accessed on Jan. 2, 2015

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