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Estate Planning for Your Last Will and Testament in Missouri

Nothing in life is certain except for death, and even then, we don’t know when we will pass away. If you set up a legal will now, you can distribute your assets after your death in a smooth, effective way. Let’s look at Missouri’s requirements for a last will and testament. Once you know how to create a last will and testament, you can begin putting your affairs in order.

Missouri’s Last Will and Testament Requirements

The person writing their will is called a testator, and they must meet certain requirements for their will to be valid. These requirements include.

  • The testator must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor.
  • The testator must be of sound mind at the time they write the will.
  • The testator must sign the will. If they cannot sign it, they must direct someone to sign their name for them in their presence.
  • Two witnesses must sign the will in the testator’s presence. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will.
  • The testator can leave their property to anyone they choose.

If the testator meets these requirements, they can start drawing up their will. It’s best if they hire an attorney for their will and testament writing process. An estate planning attorney helps their clients navigate all the intricacies of distributing their assets, set up living trusts, and perform other critical steps in the estate planning process.

Missouri’s Probate Process

When most people hear about the probate process, they usually think of it as something to avoid. However, all wills must be proven in probate court in the state of Missouri before the testator’s assets can be distributed to their beneficiaries. A legal will simplifies the Missouri probate process. If you die without a will, your assets fall under the laws of intestacy, and the probate court must divide them among your family members. That process can become long and drawn out, which is why it’s best to draw up your last will and testament in advance.

What Happens With an Intestate Estate?

If you die without a will, your estate becomes subject to the laws of intestacy. These laws determine how to distribute a person’s assets in the absence of a last will and testament. For example, Missouri’s intestacy laws allow the person’s surviving spouse to inherit their entire estate, unless the deceased has descendants with their spouse. In that case, the surviving spouse inherits the estate’s first $20,000 and half its balance. The surviving spouse takes half the estate if their deceased spouse has descendants from another marriage or relationship. If this sounds like an arbitrary, drawn-out process that you’d rather not deal with, you should begin setting up your last will and testament now.


What Can You Put in Your Will?

When you plan your last will and testament, you’re planning for the future beyond your lifetime. You state what you want to happen to any real estate or personal property you own. If you have minor children, name their guardians in the event of your death in your will. You can also plan for your pets’ futures if you believe they will outlive you. Overall, you can put anything in your will if you want to make your wishes for it or them known.

Last Will and Testament Vs. Living Will

As we talk about wills, you may wonder about the difference between a last will and testament and a living will. While the two are similar, they are not the same. A last will and testament takes effect only after the testator dies. A living will sets up your medical wishes for end-of-life circumstances and other times when you cannot make decisions about your own care. A living will takes effect while the testator is still alive. Both will types are critical components of your estate plan, but it’s best to know the difference between them before you begin planning your estate.

Plan Your Last Will and Testament With Inkwell

Inkwell’s estate planning attorneys are ready to help you plan your wills and trusts in St. Louis. Reach out to us today to start the process with solid legal advice. Our last will and testament services prepare your estate. That way, you’re ready in case the unexpected happens and your assets need to pass to your heirs and beneficiaries.