As much as we want our loved ones’ estate administration to go smoothly, probate issues are almost inevitable. One issue that could arise during the process is the existence of multiple wills.
The latest will has the upper hand
When there are two or more wills during probate, courts usually recognize the latest as the valid one. During their lifetimes, testators are free to revoke a will and create a new one or simply amend the initial will by making a codicil. Hence, it is not uncommon for testators to have more than one will. It just so happens that only one is valid. The testator may not have been able to properly revoke the original will before they signed the new one.
Unless there is an issue with its validity
Though courts may presume that the latest of multiple wills is the valid one, they will still look into available circumstances surrounding it to ensure its validity. This includes confirming whether the document follows the basic requirements of a valid will and that the testator created and signed the will voluntarily and free of undue influence and coercion.
If the latest will turns out to be invalid, then that is the time the courts will uphold the enforceability of the former will, provided it does not have validity issues as well.
Your right and responsibility as an heir or beneficiary
As someone with legal standing during the probate proceedings, it is both your right and responsibility to raise the issue of multiple wills to the court. Accordingly, you can contest a will if you believe that your loved one was not of sound mind or that they were under someone else’s undue influence when they created it, among other grounds.
This active participation in the process allows you to keep your loved one’s legacy by ensuring that probate follows their wishes.