In May of 2005 the probate court entered an order authorizing the appointment of a conservator for Laverne Sturmfels. The probate court found that while the protectee was in need of a conservator, she was able to make and communicate a reasonable choice as to whom should serve as her conservator. The protectee chose her nephew, Carl V. Frederick, who is the defendant in this action. The protectee’s brother, Gus Sturmfels challenged the court’s appointment of the defendant, arguing that he had a conflict of interest with the protectee, that the protectee was unqualified to act as conservator for the protectee, and that the protectee has failed to properly discharge his responsibilities. The probate court, sua sponte, raised the question of whether the plaintiff had standing as an “interested party” to challenge the appointment of the defendant as conservator for the protectee, because he was merely an heir with an expectancy interest in the estate of the protectee.
While §475.082.5 allows any interested person to file a motion challenging the appointment of a guardian or conservator, the definition of “interested person” in §472.010(15) does not include an heir with an expectancy in the estate of the protectee because heirs have no standing in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings. As such, parties with a mere expectancy interested in the estate of the protectee have no standing to challenge the appointment of a guardian or conservator pursuant to §475.082.5
In order to have standing to appeal an order under the probate code, a party must be an aggrieved “interested person.” §475.082.5 allows such an “interested person” to file a motion alleging that a conservator is not discharging his statutory responsibilities and duties or has not acted in the best interests of his protectee. However, §475 does not provide a definition of an “interested person.” However, as defined in §472.010(15) an interested person means “heirs, devisees, spouses, creditors or any others having a property right or claim against the estate of a decedent being administered and includes children of a protectee who may have a property right or claim against or an interest in the estate of a protectee.” Here, the plaintiff’s relationship with the protectee under the probate code is that of an heir with an expectancy in her estate. However, Missouri courts have consistently held that heirs have no standing in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings. Accordingly, the court reasoned that Mr. Sturmfels is not an interested person in the administration of the Protectee’s estate and therefore lacks standing to appeal the probate court’s decision.