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How do you know which will is real?

You have recently mourned the death of your last parent and now you are facing the task of making sure you execute your parents’ will according to their wishes. However, while going through their paperwork, you realize that your parents left two wills. Both appear at first glance to be valid, leaving you with some confusion as to which will is the one to go with. You worry that choosing one or the other could cause hard feelings within your family. This is an uncommon situation, but not one that is unknown for Michigan residents.

Typically, when there are two or more wills, the probate court accepts the most recent one. Your parents might have created more than one version of their will throughout their lifetime, especially if they made their first will while you and your siblings were young. As you might imagine, it becomes necessary for wills to evolve as a family grows and the estate changes.

If, however, you suspect that the following situations might have been involved with your parents’ most recent will, you might have reason to question its validity:

  • You suspect that one of your relatives or an outsider, such as an unfamiliar caregiver listed as a beneficiary, held unjustified or excessive influence over your parents’ most recent will.
  • You believe your parent created the will under duress or that your parent did not write or agree to the will – an unsigned document may be the clue in this case.
  • The most recent will was written when your parent may have lacked the mental capacity to fully understand what he or she was signing. For example, he or she may have been suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia at the time the will was written.

Ideally, your parents should have shredded outdated former wills. The latest will should include a clause that states this version is the correct and most current version of the will to date, and that previous versions are invalid. If you are unable to determine which of multiple wills is the one your parents intended to be the final execution, it may be greatly beneficial to speak with an estate planning attorney.

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