In Missouri, a will must be filed within one year of death with the Probate Court. The court will require the original will be submitted, not just a copy. Therefore, it is very important after you execute your will that you put the original document somewhere safe. I would suggest a fire safe. If you don’t already have one, a fire safe can be purchased fairly inexpensively at stores such as Walmart or online at Amazon.
It is also a good idea to provide a copy to those family or friends whom you have chosen to act as your Personal Representative or Successor Personal Representative. You may also want to communicate with your loved ones where you keep this important document so that if they need to use it, they will be able to find it in a timely manner.
Did you know that if a will is not filed within one year of death, the will won’t determine who gets your assets? If probate is not started before one year after the death of the person who made the will, then the Missouri intestacy laws will be used instead of the will. This means the person’s heirs-at-law will be entitled to inherit from the estate instead of those individuals named in the will. If one year has passed, a Determination of Heirship can be filed with the court to determine who is entitled to the assets.
Even if there was a will, it will not be followed because it would have had to have been filed within one year from the time of death to be effective. This could mean that the decedent’s wishes will not be able to be met. It is a good idea after a loved one passes to consult with an attorney who can help you navigate the process. Timing is of importance due to the short statute of limitations placed on filing the will with the Probate Court.