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Missouri Wills Laws

Overview of Missouri Wills Laws

A will is a legal document that allows you to state your preferences for how your estate should be handled after your death. Will laws are relatively similar among the different states in that they have certain requirements, such as capacity (being of "sound mind") and witnesses (two for Missouri wills). Missouri law allows oral wills only if made right before imminent death (on one's "death bed"). You must be 18 years old in order to write a valid will, with the exception of emancipated minors.

In addition to property specifically handled by your will, Missouri law allows you to include a separate list of tangible items and their intentions (this list may be handwritten). This can be useful when, after writing a will, you decide you would like to give certain personal items to specific people.

What Happens If I Die Without a Will in Missouri?

If you die without a will, your estate goes through the state probate process under Missouri's intestate succession laws. Generally, any assets in your name only will be divided among your closest relatives. Some assets, including life insurance proceeds or retirement accounts, pass to the beneficiary named in each individual asset.

By writing a will, your estate bypasses the time-consuming and relatively arbitrary probate process. See FindLaw's Making a Will section to learn more. The following chart highlights the basics of Missouri wills law.

Code Section 474.310, et seq.
Age of Testator 18 years or older and of sound mind, or any emancipated minor
Number of Witnesses Must be attested by two or more competent witnesses subscribing their names to the will in presence of testator.
Nuncupative (Oral Wills) Valid only if made in imminent peril of death and death results, declared to be his will before two disinterested witnesses, reduced to writing under direction of one of witnesses within 30 days and submitted for probate within 6 months of death; can only dispose of personal property of no more than $500 and does not change or revoke existing will; may be revoked by another nuncupative will.
Holographic Wills No statutory or judicial pronouncement of validity

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Missouri wills attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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