This answer to this question brings to mind the following response we’ve all heard at some point in our lives: sure you can—but should you? There is nothing in Missouri law that requires you to consult with an attorney when making a will, but it is highly advisable to do so. Making a will is a complicated matter, and in order for a will to be valid, it must comply with certain formalities. If you do not create a will in compliance with state law, it will fail, and the state of Missouri will distribute your assets according to its laws of intestacy, which may result in a distribution of your estate that is significantly different from what you intended.
Here are some of the requirements for making a valid will in Missouri:
- The will must be in writing
- It must be signed by the testator (the person who made the will) or by someone else at the testator’s direction in the testator’s presence
- It must be signed in front of two witnesses
- The two witnesses must also sign the will
While this may sound simple enough, you would be surprised as to how often people who try to execute a will make an error that can cause the entire will to fail. In addition, there is the issue of the terms of the will itself. Writing a will that accurately reflects your wishes can be more complicated than it seems, and it any uncertainty in the terms of a will can result in litigation between heirs down the road. In addition, the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney can help guide you regarding the disposition of assets you didn’t even realize you needed to address.
Estate Planning Beyond the Execution of a Will
While a will is an integral part of any estate plan, in many cases, it is only the first step. An experienced lawyer will be able to take stock of your entire estate and help you create an estate plan that disposes of your estate in the most efficient way possible. Some of the other estate planning tools that an attorney may advise you to use include:
- Joint ownership of assets
- Beneficiary bank accounts
- Inter vivos (living) trusts
- Powers of attorney for healthcare and financial decisions
- A business succession plan
Call the Law Office of Kenneth P. Carp Today to Schedule a Free Consultation With a St. Louis Estate Planning Attorney
If you are considering making a will, creating a trust, or otherwise planning for the future of your estate, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. Kenneth P. Carp has been practicing law form more than 25 years and is committed to helping people create comprehensive estate plans that accomplish their goals. To schedule a free case evaluation with an estate planning lawyer in St. Louis, call our office today at (636) 947-3600 or send us an email through our online contact form.