To make a valid will under Missouri law, the will must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator or by another person at the testator’s direction and in the testator’s presence;
- Signed and attested by two competent witnesses
The requirements for a valid will in Missouri are found in § 474.320 RSMo.
Who Can Make a Valid Will Under Missouri Law?
To make a valid will in Missouri, the testator (person making the will) must be:
- At least 18 years old; or
- A minor emancipated by adjudication, marriage, or entry into active military duty; and
- Of sound mind.
To be of sound mind under Missouri law, the testator must understand, at the time they create the will:
- The ordinary affairs of life;
- The value and extent of the testator’s property;
- The number and names of the persons that are the natural objects of the testator’s bounty and their: (a) their fair expectation of an inheritance, considering their conduct and treatment of the testator; and (b) their capacity and necessities.
Signature Requirements For a Missouri Will
In order to be valid, a Missouri will must be signed by the testator or by another person at the testator’s direction and in the testator’s presence. If at all possible, it is preferable for the testator to sign the will himself, to avoid even the appearance of a lack of capacity, which is sometimes suggested when the testator does not sign the will by his own hand.
There is no requirement under Missouri law that a will must be signed at the end of the document to be valid.
Witness Requirements For a Valid Missouri Will
A Missouri will must be witnessed by two competent witnesses in order to be valid. The witnesses must sign the will in the testator’s presence. Anyone who is generally competent to act as a witness in the state of Missouri may act as a witness to a will. § 474.330(1).
Does A Missouri Will Have To Be Notarized?
No, a will does not need to be notarized in Missouri in order for the will to be valid. However, a will can be made self-proving in Missouri, which requires a notary.
If a self-proving affidavit is executed, then the court can admit the will to probate without the submission of any additional proof that the will was executed in accordance with Missouri law. §§ 473.065(1) and 474.337 RSMo. The self-proving affidavit is usually attached to the will and can make the probate process smoother. The form for the self-proving affidavit in Missouri is found at § 474.337 RSMo.
Are Holographic Wills Valid In Missouri?
No, Missouri law does not recognize holographic wills (wills handwritten by the testator and not signed and attested by witnesses). All wills, in order to be valid under Missouri law, must be attested to by two or more competent witnesses. If a will is handwritten and is properly witnessed, it can be valid under Missouri law.
To make sure that you have created a valid will under Missouri law, consult with a Missouri probate lawyer.