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What happens when there is more than one will?

Going through the process of probate for your loved one can feel overwhelming. While the process should be a way to ensure your loved one’s estate goes to the correct beneficiaries, some issues can cause complications.

Your loved one knew it was important to draft a Will, but estate planning can be complex. If they tried to create an estate plan without the assistance of an experienced attorney problems could arise. In some cases, instead of updating a Will with a Codicil, a person will create a new one, making it unclear which document should be used for probate.

This is what you should know about the issues that can come up when a loved one leaves more than one Will.

There can be only one

While there may be multiple documents that your loved one intended to leave as a Will, only one will be considered as valid by the court. Unfortunately, deciding which Will is valid can cause friction between family members, especially if the distributions vary greatly.

Typically, the court will accept the most recent Will as valid. However, there are circumstances where the newer Will is invalid, such as:

  • Improper revocation of the old Will
  • The testator was under duress or undue influence when creating the new Will
  • Your loved one no longer had the mental capacity to make a Will

These situations can be frustrating to discuss and, ultimately, difficult to prove when family members disagree. It is essential to have the support of an experienced attorney to guide you through the process since it can be very complex.

Moving forward

Once the court determines whether to proceed with the new Will or the old one, the estate will go through the probate process. During probate, the court will assess the estate’s financial obligations and the distribution of the assets.

As part of the process, the personal representative for the estate will have many duties, including:

  • Identifying and gathering assets
  • Paying valid claims and other expenses
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries
  • Closing the probate estate

The personal representative has an important job when it comes to managing the estate through the probate process. It can be helpful to consult with a skilled probate attorney to avoid complications.

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