A Will is the instrument mostly commonly considered by people discussing estate planning. A Will sets forth who will receive your property on your death. It also allows the maker, known as the testator, to name a guardian for minor children and to set up a trust to benefit the children, typically covering living, educational and other expenses.
A Will is not a means of avoiding probate court. Instead, the document advises the probate court with regard to how assets are to be distributed. For a Will to be valid in Missouri:
- The testator must be at least 18.
- The testator must be of sound mind.
- The will must be signed.
- The will must be witnessed by two people unrelated to the testator.
When a person dies without a will, any property that is titled solely in the decedent’s name is distributed to beneficiaries designated by state law.