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Title XXXI TRUSTS AND ESTATES OF DECEDENTS AND PERSONS UNDER DISABILITY

Chapter 474

Effective - 28 Aug 1955 bottom

  474.430.  Court to conform to directions of will. — All courts and others concerned in the execution of last wills shall have due regard to the directions of the will, and the true intent and meaning of the testator, in all matters brought before them.

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(RSMo 1939 § 568, A.L. 1955 p. 385 § 272)

Prior revisions: 1929 § 567; 1919 § 555; 1909 § 583

(1958) Devise of undivided one-half interest in realty to testator's son for life and at his death to his children absolutely but if he should die without issue living then to other son for life and at his death to other son's "heirs at law" was construed according to statute of descent and distribution in effect when second life tenant died rather than statute in effect at execution of will and testator's death and thus widow of second life tenant took one-half of the undivided one-half interest against contention that testator indicated intent that land go to his descendants. Thomas v. Higginbotham (Mo.), 318 S.W.2d 234.

(1960) There is a strong presumption against partial intestacy but where the language used by the testator is plain and unequivocal, the court cannot give it a different meaning. In re Fowler's Estate (Mo.), 338 S.W.2d 44.

(1963) Where testator devised all the remainder of his property, after debts were paid, to his wife "she to have complete control and free will in the management and disposal of same so long as she may live", the widow received fee simple title to the realty. Shaw v. Wertz (Mo.), 369 S.W.2d 215.

1963) Where testator devised one-sixth of his property to his wife for life with remainder to testator's "children and heirs" the words "children" and "heirs" were treated as synonymous so that the children received a vested remainder in the one-sixth interest. Walters v. Sisler (Mo.), 371 S.W.2d 187.

(1964) Where wife bequeathed one-half of her estate to her husband and failed to specify whether the half was to be determined on the basis of the gross estate or on the basis of the net or distributable estate, court held that she intended that charges and expenses be paid from gross estate and that the bequests be determined as a percentage of the net of distributable estate remaining. St. Louis Union Trust Co. v. Kruger (Mo.), 377 S.W.2d 303.

(1967) This section requires that, in determining the true intent and meaning of testators, courts must first look to the will, but if the language of the will is determined to be ambiguous they may look to surrounding facts and circumstances.  Seltzer v. Schroeder (A.), 409 S.W.2d 777.


---- end of effective   28 Aug 1955 ----

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