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How do multiple wills affect probate?

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | Probate |

Wills are crucial in the probate process as they outline the deceased’s wishes for asset distribution. They appoint executors to manage estate affairs and name beneficiaries to receive their property. However, there are instances when a testator leaves multiple wills. How does this affect the probate process?

Prolonging the probate process

Probate can be more complex when multiple wills are present. With multiple wills, the court needs to determine which one is the most recent and legally valid as it presumably reflects the latest intentions of the deceased. With this additional investigation, the probate process can become more lengthy and costly.

Giving rise to disputes

The existence of multiple wills can lead to disputes among potential heirs or beneficiaries, as different wills may contain different instructions regarding the distribution of assets. In such cases, the court will carefully review the facts and evidence from various parties and determine which will is legally binding. This process can be time-consuming and may involve trials if parties challenge the validity of a will or wills.

Triggering intestacy laws when no will is valid

If the court finds that none of the wills are valid, then it will distribute the estate in question according to the state’s intestacy laws. For instance, in Ohio, the assets of an individual who dies without a will transfer to their next of kin, starting with the children and spouse.

If you are currently in a situation where your deceased loved one left multiple wills, it is important to seek guidance from a legal professional who can provide information and advice based on the specific probate laws of your state and the unique circumstances surrounding your situation.

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