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What happens when a loved one leaves behind two wills?

It is important for people in Bloomfield Hills to be careful and diligent when planning their estates. It is not unusual for people to update their wills when life events happen, such as the birth or death of family members, changes in income and assets, and changes of heart as to who they want to inherit their property. But, if a situation arises where someone dies and leaves behind multiple wills, loved ones may be confused about how to handle the situation.

Here is a brief overview of what happens when there are multiple wills.

Only one version is valid

The courts will examine the documents to determine which one is the most recent version, which will often take precedence over any previous versions, assuming the latest one has been properly executed. When the latest version is not valid because it was not properly executed or there was undue influence, fraud or some other type of valid reason, the courts may rule that a previous version of the testator’s last will is valid and that distribution and administration of the estate is done in accordance with the terms and instructions set forth in that document.

Issues involving multiple wills

One common problem that often arises when there are multiple wills is that the testator’s estate could end up being settled in a manner that goes against his or her final wishes. This can happen when a testator did not take actions to ensure that his or her most recent will met all of the criteria necessary to invalidate any prior versions of the will.

For example, a testator has an older version of a will that he or she created while under the influence of another person. The testator later recovers his or her senses and creates an updated last will and testament. If he or she fails to execute the most recent version of the will so that it overrides the decisions made while he or she was under the influence of another, any beneficiaries could end up cheated out of their inheritance.

Testators who want to avoid disputes and make it easier for their loved ones to understand their final wishes should destroy previous versions of their wills when they revise them. Anyone who is dealing with a situation where there are multiple wills should speak to an attorney to learn their options.

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