The most basic part of an estate planning is having a will. A will allows you to designate basic facts about your estate and its beneficiaries.
You can state who you would like to name as your personal representative (sometimes referred to as an executor). The personal representative is responsible for starting the court process to administer your estate, collecting and, if necessary, selling your property, and distributing the proceeds of your estate to your named beneficiaries. You can also state whether you trust the personal representative to administer the estate independently without court approval for each decision and whether you would like them to post a bond for the value of the estate assets with the court.
The most important part of the will is the designation of people you want to receive your property after your death. This is especially important in cases where you do not have close family members or where you want people other than family members to benefit from your estate.
Missouri does have specific requirements for a will including that it be signed by the person making it and that it be signed by two witnesses who are not going to receive anything from the will. Missouri does not recognize wills that do not fit these requirements, unless the will was executed in a different state and is valid under the laws of that state.
Intestate Succession in Missouri
If a person passes away without making a will, their property passes through Missouri’s laws of intestate succession. The property passes first to the living spouse of that person and their children. The living spouse is not entitled to the entire estate if the person who passed away has living children. If there is no surviving spouse, property passes to the living children or the heirs of previously deceased children.
If there are no surviving children or other descendants, the property would be awarded to a combination of the deceased person’s parents and siblings or their descendants. Eventually, if a close enough relative cannot be identified all of the property will be “donated” to the Missouri school system.
If you wish your property to pass according to the laws of intestate succession, you must have a valid will that designates the people you do want to receive your property.
Contact Our Estate Planning Lawyers
Our attorneys are available to discuss your Estate Planning issues. Contact the St. Charles lawyers of Flesner Wentzel. Call us at 636-442-4529. Consultations are free, and we offer flexible payment plans. Se habla Español.