Missouri Last Will and Testament Law

Wills and Estates – Last Will and Testament Law – Missouri

Note:    This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive summary of the law of wills for Missouri, but does contain basic and other provisions. Hand written wills and wills where the testator cannot sign his or her name are not discussed.

Who may make will: Any person of sound mind, eighteen years of age or older or any minor emancipated by adjudication, marriage or entry into active military duty into the military may by last will devise his or her real or personal property and may also devise the whole or any part of his or her body to any college, university, licensed hospital or to the state anatomical board for use in the manner expressly provided by his or her will or otherwise.   474.310.

Will form, execution, attestation: Every will shall be in writing, signed by the testator, or by some person, by his direction, in his presence; and shall be attested by two or more competent witnesses subscribing their names to the will in the presence of the testator. 474.320.

Who may witness will – effect of interest in will:
1. Any person competent to be a witness generally in this state may act as attesting witness to a will.
2.  No will is invalidated because attested by an interested witness; but any interested witness shall, unless the will is also attested by two disinterested witnesses, forfeit so much of the provisions therein made for him as in the aggregate exceeds in value, as of the date of the testator’s death, what he would have received had the testator died intestate.
3.  No attesting witness is interested by reason of being a creditor of the estate or because he is named executor in the will or unless the will gives to him some personal and beneficial interest. 474.330.

Revocation of wills: No will in writing, except in the cases herein mentioned, nor any part thereof, shall be revoked, except by a subsequent will in writing, or by burning, cancelling, tearing or obliterating the same, by the testator, or in his presence, and by his consent and direction. 474.400.

Will may provide for disposal of personal property by separate list: A will may refer to a written statement or list to dispose of items of tangible personal property not otherwise specifically disposed of by the will, other than money, evidences of indebtedness, documents of title, securities and property used in trade or business. To be admissible under this section as evidence of the intended disposition, the writing must either be in the handwriting of the testator or be signed by the testator, must be dated and must describe the items and the devisees with reasonable certainty.
The writing may:

(1) Be referred to as one to be in existence at the time of the testator’s death;
(2) Be prepared before or after the execution of the will;
(3) Be altered by the testator after its preparation; and
(4) Be a writing which has no significance apart from its effect upon the dispositions made by the will. 474.333.

Written will self-proved, how: A written will may at the time of its execution, or at any subsequent date, be made self-proved, by the acknowledgment thereof by the testator and the witnesses, each made before an officer authorized to administer oaths under the laws of this state, and evidenced by the officer’s certificate, under official seal, attached or annexed to the will. 474.337.

Written will valid if executed in compliance with law: A written will is valid if executed in compliance with:
(1) The laws of this state;
(2) The laws, as of the time of execution, of the place where the will is executed; or
(3) The laws of the place where, at the time of execution or the time of the testator’s death, the testator is domiciled, has a place of abode or is a national. 474.360.

Deposit of will in court in testator’s lifetime:

1. A will may be deposited by the person making it, or by such person’s agent, with the probate division of any circuit court, to be safely kept until delivered or disposed of as hereinafter provided. The clerk of the court shall receive and keep the will, and give a certificate of deposit for it.

2. Every will intended to be deposited shall be sealed in an appropriate manner approved by the circuit court, en banc, subject to administrative rules of the supreme court, which shall have endorsed thereon “Will of”, followed by the name of the testator. The clerk of the court shall endorse thereon the day when, and the person by whom, it was delivered. The wrapper may also be endorsed with the name of the person to whom the will is to be delivered after the death of the testator. It shall not be opened or read until delivered to a person entitled to receive it, or otherwise disposed of as hereinafter provided.

3. During the lifetime of the testator, the will shall be delivered only to such testator, or to some person authorized by such testator by an order in writing duly proved by the oath of a subscribing witness. After the testator’s death, the clerk shall notify the person named in the endorsement on the wrapper of the will, if there is a person so named, and deliver it to such person.

4. If the will is not delivered to a person named in the endorsement on the wrapper, it shall be publicly opened in the court within thirty days after notice of the testator’s death, and be retained by the court until offered for probate. Notice shall be given to the executor named therein and to such other persons as the court may designate. If the proper venue is in another court, the will shall be transmitted to such court; but before such transmission a true copy thereof shall be made and retained in the court in which the will was deposited. 474.510.


Inside Missouri Last Will and Testament Law