Due to life circumstances changing, it may be necessary to modify estate planning documents. For example, you might decide to revoke your will due to the desire to change beneficiaries or reallocate assets. However, what happens if you experience a change of perspective and wish to reinstate it? There are various methods of undoing a revoked will, including revoking the new will to reinstate the old one, expressing your intent to restore the old will, or re-executing the original revoked will.
Revoking a New Will to Reinstate the Old Will
Typically, the latest will supersedes any previously established wills until it takes effect upon the individual’s passing. Until then, the first will is not genuinely revoked but overridden by the more recent will. Consequently, tearing up or destroying the second will, along with any copies of it, can potentially reestablish the authority of the initial will over the estate at the time of death. It’s important to note, however, that most states do not adhere to this rule, so reinstating the old will is unlikely to be as straightforward as this.
Stating Intention to Revive the Old Will
Certain legal jurisdictions permit the reinstatement of a will that has been previously revoked. The possibility of reinstating a revoked will may arise from the content of a new will, which not only revokes any prior wills but also reiterates and incorporates the terms of the will you aim to restore. If the language or cues within the revoking document suggest an intention to revive the original will, the court may consider this as supportive evidence of revival.
Re-Execution of the Revoked Will
Another approach to reviving a revoked will involves the recreation of the previously revoked will. This entails signing a copy of a new will that is identical to the original, essentially republishing it. This process typically requires adhering to the same legal formalities that were necessary for the creation of your original valid will, such as signing it in the presence of witnesses and a notary and complying with other legal requirements in accordance with local laws.
Need Estate Planning Advice?
If you are considering undoing a revoked will, attempting to recreate or reinstate the will on your own is not advisable. The understanding and application of laws governing will revival and revocation can exhibit significant variations depending on the jurisdiction and the legal precedents in place.
Wills require validation in probate court. If there are several versions of a will, intentions are unclear, or these documents were not crafted following state laws, the court may resort to the state’s intestacy laws instead of honoring your specific wishes. Consequently, your beneficiaries may not inherit what you intended them to.
Law & Stein is here to accurately record your wishes while addressing legal modifications and ensuring your will reflects your genuine intentions. Additionally, we can play a pivotal role in creating other estate planning documents, which guides your family through a prompt and streamlined probate process. Contact us today to learn more.