Last Will and Testament Missouri: Essential Guide for Estate Planning

With guidance from Worsham Law Firm, you can understand the essential requirements and legal nuances of crafting a Last Will and Testament in Missouri.

Navigating Missouri’s Last Will and Testament Laws

What happens to your legacy after you pass away? It’s a haunting question that leads many to consider the importance of a last will and testament. Our lives are painted on canvases of relationships, assets, and personal wishes—without a will, this portrait can become a fragmented reflection of our intentions. Crafting a last will and testament is crucial to the whole estate planning framework. It ensures that the fruits of one’s labor are distributed according to their wishes rather than under state allocation directives.

Did you know that without a Will, the state of Missouri determines who inherits your assets, often leading to outcomes that might not align with your desires? The consequences of not having a Will, which is legally termed dying intestate, can be particularly unsettling. Bonds built over a lifetime may be overlooked, and the state’s impersonal formulas applied to your estate can leave loved ones in challenging predicaments. As legal professionals with years of experience in the Missouri estate planning scene, we at Worsham Law Firm understand the nuances of creating a legally sound last will and testament that honors your wishes and protects your estate.

What Is in a Will?

A will is a legal document that contains the testator’s wishes regarding the distribution of their assets after their passing. Wills typically contain provisions for minor children, including the appointment of a guardian or the establishment of a trust, as well as for pets and charitable donations. Testators also appoint a competent and trustworthy personal representative—also known as an executor—to carry out the will’s instructions. This role encompasses managing the estate, paying debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

When creating your will, it is advisable to contact a knowledgeable estate planning attorney for legal advice.

Eligibility Requirements for Creating a Will in Missouri

It is essential to understand the legal requirements for creating a valid will as a resident of Missouri. Failure to meet these requirements may result in your will being declared invalid.

Under Missouri law, any person of sound mind aged 18 or over or any minor emancipated by law, marriage, or active military duty can create a will. Sound mind refers to the ability to comprehend the nature of the transaction and to recall and understand one’s relations to the persons who have claims to the property being distributed.

Legal Formalities to Ensure a Will’s Validity

The legal formalities that a will must conform with in Missouri depend on the type of will it is. Missouri law recognizes three types of wills with distinct legal requirements.

Standard Wills

In Missouri, a standard will is required to be in writing and signed by the individual making the will, known as the testator. It is further necessary for the will to be executed in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must also sign the will. These witnesses must be disinterested witnesses, that is, witnesses with no stake in the will, as opposed to an interested witness. The presence of disinterested witnesses bolsters the credibility of a will.

Self-Proving Wills

There is also the option of creating a self-proving will, in which case the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses. This could significantly speed up the probate process. To do this, the testator needs to go with their witnesses to a notary public and attest to the will by providing the relevant certificate proving the will’s authenticity under official seal. 

Nuncupative wills

A nuncupative will is an oral will created by a testator who is in imminent peril of death. The will shall only be valid if the testator dies from the imminent peril. For a nuncupative will to be valid, the testator has to declare it in front of two disinterested witnesses. One of the witnesses must then write or direct the writing out of the will within 30 days of its being given. A nuncupative will must be submitted to the probate court within six months of its creation to be binding.

Revoking or Amending a Will

In Missouri, a will can be changed or revoked by the testator at any time by creating a new will or a codicil, an amendment to the will. A testator can also revoke their own will by physically destroying it, for example, by burning, canceling, tearing, or obliterating it. Additionally, a divorce can automatically alter or revoke certain will provisions concerning the former spouse.

However, it is essential not to rely on this automatic revocation. It is always advisable to update your will in line with changes in your life circumstances. Regularly updating your will ensures that it reflects your current state of affairs, including all assets and intended beneficiaries.

Why Choose Worsham Law Firm for Your Estate Planning Needs

The legal terrain can be intricate when trying to secure your legacy in Missouri. At Worsham Law Firm, we offer that professional precision, ensuring your last will and testament and other estate planning documents are comprehensive and tailored to state laws. Our client’s needs, whether they involve setting up guardians for minors, powers of attorney, or health care directives, are met with meticulous care.

Our Services Include:

  • Drafting a last will and testament
  • Establishing Trusts
  • Creating Living Wills and Health Care Directives
  • Advising on Elective Share and Tax Planning
  • Preparing for Incapacitation

Estate planning extends beyond simply drafting a document; it’s about protecting what matters most. A surviving spouse, a cherished partner, or vulnerable heirs deserve certainty for the future. At Worsham Law Firm, we understand this. Our approach considers the personal nuances of each client’s situation.

Contact Us Today for Your Estate Planning Needs

If you want to create your will, or have a preexisting will that you need to update or you are unsure whether your directives are clear enough and in line with state legal provisions, contact our estate planning attorney. We are here to affirm that your intentions are honored and your legacy is preserved. Let us guide you through the process for maximum peace of mind.

For a personalized service where your vision is respected and enacted according to the letter of the law, contact Worsham Law Firm. Together, we can ensure your testament reflects your life’s values and complies seamlessly with Missouri’s legal requirements.

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