Missouri Law on Last Wills

By Holly Cameron

Writing a will means that you decide who acquires your property when you die. If you don’t make a will, you are said to be “intestate” and the state decides who is entitled to your estate. In Missouri, a person of sound mind who is at least 18 years of age, or an emancipated minor, may make a valid will. This person is commonly referred to as the “testator.”

Writing a Will

The Missouri Revised Statutes provide that all wills should be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of at least two witnesses who sign it. The law does not invalidate a will if it is witnessed by someone who benefits from it, but the witness may forfeit all or some of his bequest by doing so. If you wish to write a will, you can contact an attorney or a legal document preparation service such as LegalZoom.

Oral Wills

To avoid potential disputes, all wills should be in writing; however, Missouri allows oral wills in certain, limited circumstances. An oral will is valid if made by an individual who is in imminent peril of death and dies as a result of that peril, such as an illness. Two independent individuals should witness the oral will and arrange for it to be confirmed in writing within 30 days. Oral wills apply only to personal property up to a value of $500.

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Revoking a Will

Circumstances change for everyone over time and you should review your will after any important life changes, such as having children or getting married. Missouri allows two methods for revoking a will. Most commonly, the testator may simply write a new will and sign it in the presence of two witnesses. This automatically revokes any previous wills. If, however, a testator wishes to revoke a will without writing a new one, he should destroy it or direct it to be destroyed in his presence.

Effect of Divorce

If a testator divorces his spouse after making his will, Missouri law automatically revokes all provisions in the will that benefit the spouse. The effect is the same as if the former spouse died at the time of the divorce. All other provisions of the will remain in force.

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Illinois Laws on Wills


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Indiana Legal Criteria for a Will

Indiana law requires that a will meet certain legal requirements before the Indiana courts will consider it valid. Many of these requirements, such as requiring that the testator, or will maker, be mentally competent to make a will and that the will be signed, are also required by other states, according to FindLaw. It is always wise to consult a qualified attorney when preparing a will in Indiana or any other state.

Probate Laws in Missouri

When someone dies in Missouri or dies owning property in Missouri, Missouri’s probate laws outline the procedures for processing the decedent’s estate, including determining whether the decedent’s will is valid, how to prove its validity in court, and who receives a decedent's property if he died without a valid will. These probate laws are located in Missouri Revised Statues, Chapter 474, formally known as the Missouri Probate Code.

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When a person draws up her will, she may think her work is done. A valid will sets out a road map as to what will happen to her property when she dies, naming beneficiaries and an executor to shepherd the will through probate. However, it is possible that an executor could destroy a will with or without the maker's consent.

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