Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Missouri

My mother, after my father died, wrote a new will. In it, she left my 2 sisters and 1 brother all of their portion of the estate in a lump sum, with no strings attached. The estate was to be divided equally in fourths between all of us. However, she also left a provision in her will that my wife had to be deceased before I could get my 1/4 of the estate. She wrote the will in 2008, but did not become deceased until 2010.

The issue here is, while all my siblings are trustees of my portion of the estate trust and should they all die, then it passes to their children to control. If I die before my 'supposed spouse', then my portion goes to my only child, free and clear with no strings, according to the will. Meanwhile my siblings are supposed to use my portion of the trust to pay my medical expenses, any special schooling, education or "as they see fit".

Here is the major issue and question I have. My "wife" and I were legally divorced in 2005, 3 years prior to this will being drawn up. I had no idea what was in the will until five years after the divorce when my mother died and the will was exposed. I took the will to a lawyer, but he said she was very specific about my "wife" having to DIE BEFORE I could collect my portion and a divorce wouldn't be sufficient That she had thought of everything to make sure we didn't divorce but continue to live together as a way for me to get my inheritance. I didn't mention to that lawyer that we had already been divorced 3 years prior to this will being written. I wanted to wait and see IF my siblings would just do the RIGHT thing, since they have control of and could release the money if they would, under the "as they see fit" clause. This has not been the case however. My family is pretty mean and spiteful as I guess you can tell. LOL.

I never told my family I divorced because it wasn't any of their business and since they didn't like my wife, it kept them away from me, I guess you can understand why I preferred it that way. LOL I am permanently disabled, in a power chair and they live in Missouri and I live in Texas..

My question is, Since I was divorced 3 years prior to the will being written and 5 years before I even knew what was IN this will, obviously this divorce was not filed and completed for the sole purpose of obtaining my portion of the estate. And, since I HAD NO WIFE when she wrote this will, nor when she died and it was executed, is it valid at all? Doesn't a will have to be legally CORRECT for it to be a valid legal instrument? I know wording in a legal document can completely change what a person obviously intended when it was written.

I am asking this question, because several years ago my mother and her sister were able to kick their brother out of the family homestead that their mother had left him Rights To Survivorship of, because of HOW she had worded it. While everyone KNEW she intended for him to live on the homestead until he died, she had written that he had the right to live IN the house until his death. Unfortunately, the house burned down and was a total loss. He wanted to move in a trailer, as he was old and ill, but his sisters got an attorney who got him out of there because she didn't say he could live ON the property, but just IN the house which no longer existed. They then threw him off the land, sold the property and split what they got for the property between themselves, giving him NOTHING; except grief. He died 6 mo. later.

So, seeing as how I was NOT MARRIED at all and had NO WIFE (and still don't) when she improvised this scheme to make sure my "wife" didn't get any of her money; along with my siblings who obviously knew all about it; is it a valid legal document and would it hold up in court if I legally challenged it? And, since the will was written and executed in Missouri, would I have to file in Missouri? How would the laws vary on Estate Laws, or would they, between the two States?


Asked on 4/09/12, 1:59 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Richard Herndon Richard J. Herndon, Attorney at Law

I think if you weren't married at either the time the will was written, or when your mother died, then it seems as if it is impossible for your wife to die, as you have none. I think that provision should just be ignored. Did the document mention "your wife" or a person by name?

It seems that Missouri law will prevail. I think you need to hire a lawyer to make a demand, and if the demand isn't met you will need to file an action against the trustees, probably in the same Court that probated the will.

I hope this helps. Let us know if you have any questions.

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Answered on 4/09/12, 2:19 pm

Anthony Smith LawSmith

If your mother was domiciled in Missouri, then the dispute will probably have to be fought in Missouri. One only has a year after death to present a Will in Missouri. If your mother's will was nto already submitted for probate, it no longer actsd as her will. If you were given notice of the will being presnted, you have only six months from that date toi contest the will. So, it sounds like one or both of the statutory periods has expired. If you wre not married when the will was executed and still nto married when it was probated, then you should be able to get the court to interpret it to determine that the condition has been met. But, if yrou mother named your former wife, and said basically "Son does nto get his share until Susan dies" you might have some dificulty.

This matter is complicatred enough that you need to get some more information and advice before deciding what to do. You need to find out if a probate estate was opened for your mother, and if the will was submitted for probate. You need to use this information to consult direclty with a missouri probate attorney. If you mother died outside of Missouri, or the property is poutside of Missouri, you might need advice form an attorney licensed in that state.

Good luck

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Answered on 4/09/12, 3:35 pm

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