In Missouri, executors of a decedent's estate are called personal representatives. Once formally appointed by the probate court, personal representatives have a fiduciary duty to the estate. Estate administration may entail a great deal of work and time, and Missouri probate law permits reasonable compensation for personal representatives. Minimum compensation is set by statute, but executors may petition the court for additional compensation if the efforts of administering the estate warrant it.
Some testators may name more than one personal representative in the will, but the majority name only one executor. A single personal representative is entitled to minimum compensation under Missouri statute. As of June 2011, the minimum amounts for the value of the decedent's personal property and proceeds of real estate sold by order of the court are 5 percent on the initial $5,000; 4 percent on the next $20,000; 3 percent on the next $75,000; 2.75 percent on the next $300,000; 2.5 percent on the next $600,000 and 2 percent on the rest of the estate. If there is more than one personal representative, the amount taken from the estate as compensation cannot exceed twice the minimum compensation.
In situations where reasonable compensation is above the minimum amounts provided by law, the court may allow additional compensation. Extraordinary services performed by the personal representative are not prerequisites for additional compensation. The court may determine the actual value of property when making a decision regarding the additional compensation, basing the percentage of compensation on this fair market value.
Not all of the estate's assets are subject to probate, so this will affect executor compensation. Only real estate or tangible personal property titled solely in the decedent's name go through the probate process. Property held under joint tenancy is exempt, as is life insurance paid to any named beneficiary other than the personal representative. Missouri law include the "Non-probate Transfer on Death" statute, which allows assets deeded to specific heirs or beneficiaries upon the owner's death to pass directly without going through probate.
Missouri law also provides for a family allowance, the amount of which cannot be included in as a percentage of the executor's fee. The family allowance provides for the support of the surviving spouse and minor children for one year after the decedent's death. The family allowance amount depends on the standard of living when the decedent was alive and the financial condition of the estate.