A valid will is a one of the most basic pieces of estate planning. A will clearly lays out how assets and debts should be distributed after the death of the will holder, known as a testator. However, as most everyone knows, life is unpredictable, and sometimes a will may need to be revoked due to changed circumstances.
Ohio law specifies the different ways that a will can be revoked:
- Destroying the will
- Creating a new will
- Making another signed, attested and subscribed writing
Destroying a will requires the will be physically destroyed, by tearing, burning, or any other means of physically destroying the will, with intent. This means that if the will is physically destroyed on accident, and the testator did not mean to destroy it, the will is not legally revoked, since there was no intent.
Additionally, the testator must have the capacity to revoke the will. This means the testator must be over the age of 18, of sound mind and memory and not be under restraint when revoking the will. Essentially, the testator must know exactly what they are doing when they destroy the will and must not be doing it because someone else is forcing them to.
Can you revoke a will for someone else?
Someone besides the testator may legally revoke a will by physically destroying it in the presence of the testator and at the testator’s direction, or pursuant to a writing from the testator saying they want the will destroyed.
Executing a new will automatically revokes a prior will. Most wills contain language stating that the will revokes all other wills. Intent does not have to be proven the way it does when a will is simply revoked, since the new will itself is considered evidence of the testator’s intent to revoke any prior wills.
Although Ohio law does allow a will to be revoked by drafting, signing and attesting another writing, using this writing to prove a prior will was revoked can be challenging. The simplest and cleanest way to revoke a will is to simply have a new one drafted with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.