It happens sometimes that people die with two wills or even more than that. If you are involved in such a scenario right now, it is natural to think, “Well, the newer one is the one I must follow. It is more recent and best reflects Dad’s wishes.”
However, it is not true in some cases that the newer will is the valid one. Here is a look at some scenarios in which the older will could be the valid one.
A newer will might reflect the desires of your loved one more accurately than an older one but be improperly executed. For example, Michigan law requires that two witnesses sign the document, so if only one witness signed, the will could be invalid. On the other hand, if the deceased wrote the will by hand (called a holographic will), then there is no need for witness signatures. This type of will does need a date and signature to be valid.
State law also requires that the person making the will be at least 18 and of sound mind. If issues indicating unsound mind such as dementia are present, then the will might not be valid. Sound mind could also be an issue if the deceased had mental illness. However, plenty of people with mental illness are perfectly capable of drafting wills during periods of sound mind. If you are someone who fears that someone could later use this type of issue to challenge your will, be sure to draw it up with the help of a lawyer who can indicate your ability to draft the will.
The newer will may have come about as a result of undue influence. For example, a caregiver could threaten and even physically harm a client or relative until he or she changes the terms of a will to leave assets to the caregiver.