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When can problems arise with multiple wills?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Probate | 0 comments

If a person has left behind multiple wills, it can form grounds for a contest in court to determine the will that is valid. A major question in this kind of litigation is to find out which will is the most current document and is the rightful expression of the wishes of the testator.

Certain situations may make it difficult to determine the legal status of a will and possibly motivate an heir to file a court challenge.

The existence of past wills

The fact that past copies of old wills are still around can cause confusion about whether they still have validity. According to Florida law, a testator can eliminate this problem beforehand by destroying copies of old wills. This can happen by burning, tearing or obliterating a paper copy or deleting or otherwise disposing of an electronic copy.

A lack of revocation language

The fact that a will copy is the most current version may be enough to prove its legality, but there is no guarantee that a court will make that determination. A possible problem is that the will does not contain a provision that revokes past copies. A testator should make this clear in a will before signing it.

Issues involving codicils

A codicil is an amendment to a will, so it should be part of an updated will. If there is a will copy without a codicil, the existence of this document can result in disputes over which copy is legally enforceable.

Sometimes when a testator invalidates a codicil, it could still cause problems. According to Florida law, revoking a codicil can count as reviving the parts of a will that the testator had amended. So without providing evidence that establishes otherwise, a court will likely consider a will with provisions previously modified by the revoked codicil to be valid.

Other situations may cause a will challenge during probate, such as allegations of undue influence that cause changes in a will shortly before the testator has died. So any testator should make sure of establishing a current, valid will to avoid possible will contests.