Kraemer v. Maniscalco, 325 S.W.3d 427 (Mo. App. E.D. 2010)

Factual Background:

When decedent died, her 2004 will was admitted to probate and her sister was appointed the personal representative of her estate.  Decedent’s niece then filed an application to probate the 2003 will, which was rejected by the circuit court.  Niece then filed a petition to contest the 2004 will and have the 2003 will admitted probate.  Sister then filed a motion to dismiss the niece’s petition for failure to join all necessary parties.  Sister asserted that the niece had failed to join two heirs of the decedent.

 St. Louis County Circuit Court, J. Seigel, Held:

The circuit court granted the sister’s motion to dismiss, finding the heirs were necessary parties.  The niece appealed.

Court of Appeals, J. Dowd, Jr., Held:

Reversed and remanded.  Section 473.083.3 states that “[i]t is not necessary to join as parties in a will contest persons who interests will not be affected adversely by the result thereof.”  The omitted heirs are not legatees under either will, and therefore they do not stand to lose some protected benefit if the will contest succeeds.  Thus, the omitted heirs would not be adversely affected by the result of the will contest and are not necessary parties.