Writing a will may not be a fun priority. However, far too many Americans are neglecting to create this vital document. In a 2017 report by Fox Business, reports found that more than half of adults in the United States did not have a will.
While not having a will at all is dangerous, there is another potential issue to watch out for. Over the course of people’s lives, they may create multiple wills. People should update these documents after big life events, such as a marriage or having another child. People should negate previous wills, but occasionally, that step falls through the cracks. When a person dies with two wills in place, there are standard actions the court system will take to determine which one is valid.
People who create a second will should take appropriate measures to negate previous ones. Explicit revocation is the name of this practice. Explicit revocation takes place when the second will contains precise language stating that any wills made previously are no longer valid. Without this clause, it becomes a lot more difficult for the courts to determine which will the deceased person wanted to enact.
Ineffective revocation refers to instances when a person creates a second will and merely tears up the first one or shreds it. This implies any living parties should not implement the first will, but it does not always work. There may be other copies available, which complicates matters.
In the event any surviving parties submit two wills to the court for probate, it is up to a judge to figure out which one is valid. This does not necessarily mean the most recent will automatically wins. The court could argue the deceased party was not under the right state of mind when creating the new will. The most important factor to the courts is intent, and this can lead to a lengthy and frustrating process.