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Estates: Ensuring validity of will important

Although there may be state-specific laws that govern estate planning in Missouri, there are fundamental requirements for wills to be valid and legally binding. Estate planning allows individuals to state their personal preferences for the handling of their estates after death. However, if specific requirements are not met, a will may be declared invalid.

The person drafting a will must either be a minor who is emancipated or over the age of 18. If he or she is emancipated, the person must be married, in the military or legally separated from parental control. Furthermore, the individual must have the testamentary capacity -- meaning that he or she must be of sound mind and understands the specifications of the will. Even if a person had prior mental issues, if he or she was of sound mind at the time of signing a will, it might be considered as sufficient testamentary capacity.

The next requirement is the signature of the testator. It must be the person's own signature or the signature of a person designated to act on behalf of a testator who is physically unable to sign his or her name. Also, the signatures of two witnesses are necessary. However, those witnesses must be disinterested -- meaning they must not be relatives of the testator, nor can they be beneficiaries of the will.

These are but the minimum legal requirements to create a valid will. However, the support and guidance of an attorney who is experienced in planning the estates of people in Missouri can show residents additional ways in which they can make sure their assets go to the beneficiaries for which they are intended. Legal counsel can help with explaining the options for a wide variety of situations.

Source:, "Is Your Last Will and Testament Legally Binding?", Julie Garber, Accessed on Feb. 15, 2018

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