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Executing a Valid Will in Missouri and Illinois: The Right Stuff

By: Attorney Shira Truitt

Executing a valid will is an important step in the estate planning process, as it allows you to specify how you would like your assets to be distributed upon your death. A valid will also allows you to appoint a personal representative, also known as an executor, to manage the distribution of your assets according to your wishes.

In both Missouri and Illinois, there are specific requirements that must be met in order for a will to be considered valid. It is important to follow these requirements carefully to ensure that your will is legally binding.

In Missouri, a will must be in writing, signed by the testator (the person making the will) or by someone else in the testator's presence and at their direction, and witnessed by at least two individuals who are at least 18 years old and of sound mind. The will must also be signed by the witnesses in the presence of the testator and each other. If these requirements are not met, the will may be deemed invalid.

In Illinois, a will must be in writing, signed by the testator or by someone else in the testator's presence and at their direction, and witnessed by at least two individuals who are at least 18 years old and of sound mind. The will must also be signed by the witnesses in the presence of the testator and each other. If the will is not properly executed, it may be deemed invalid.

In both Missouri and Illinois, a will can be challenged in court by an interested party, such as a disinherited individual. If the will is found to be invalid or if it is successfully challenged, the estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy, which dictate how an estate is distributed if the deceased did not have a valid will.

In addition to the requirements for executing a valid will, it is also important to consider the content of the will. A will should clearly state your wishes for the distribution of your assets and the appointment of a personal representative. It is also a good idea to review your will periodically to ensure that it accurately reflects your current circumstances and wishes.

It is important to note that there are certain types of assets that cannot be disposed of through a will. For example, in both Missouri and Illinois, certain types of joint property, such as joint tenancy with right of survivorship or community property with right of survivorship, will pass directly to the surviving joint owner or spouse upon the death of the other owner, regardless of the provisions of the will.

In addition, there are certain types of assets that may pass outside of the probate process, such as assets held in a trust or assets with a designated beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy or a retirement account. These assets will not be distributed according to the provisions of a will, but will instead be distributed according to the terms of the trust or the designation of the beneficiary.

It is important to carefully consider all of your assets when drafting a will, and to determine which assets can be disposed of through a will and which assets may pass outside of the probate process. It is also a good idea to review your will periodically to ensure that it accurately reflects your current circumstances and wishes.

In summary, executing a valid will is an important step in the estate planning process, as it allows you to specify how you would like your assets to be distributed upon your death and to appoint a personal representative to manage the distribution of your assets. In both Missouri and Illinois, there are specific requirements that must be met in order for a will to be considered valid, including obtaining the necessary signatures and witnesses. It is also important to consider the content of the will and to review it periodically to ensure that it accurately reflects your current circumstances and wishes.

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If you need legal advice or a lawyer in Illinois or Missouri, please contact The Truitt Law Firm, LLC for assistance. For more information on The Truitt Law Firm, LLC or to schedule an appointment, please go to www.thetruittlawfirm.com



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