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What your family should do if you discover multiple wills

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2024 | Probate & Estate Administration

When your family discovers multiple wills during probate of a loved one’s estate, the most recent document should negate the other(s). However, before enforcing its provisions, the probate court must still validate that will.

Unfortunately, when determining the valid will, legal challenges concerning each wills’ authenticity can arise from any legal heir or beneficiary. This is especially likely if the designations and assignment of assets are contradictory within multiple wills. Ideally, each heir or beneficiary would want to back the document that favors them the most. What is your family to do in the event of such a heated situation?

What can cause the existence of multiple wills?

Discovering multiple wills may occur due to various reasons, such as changes in the testator’s intentions or the existence of outdated documents. It is crucial to identify the triggers to comprehend the context behind these multiple wills.

Each will may carry different instructions, leading to potential conflicts among beneficiaries. Understanding the legal implications, including the validity and authenticity of each will, is essential for a smooth probate process.

Initiating the probate process

All discovered wills must be filed with the probate court. This initiates the legal process and allows the court to examine each document’s validity. Transparency in this step is crucial for a fair and just resolution. The court will assess factors like the testator’s mental capacity, proper execution of the will and any evidence of coercion or fraud.

If conflicts arise between the wills, the court will conduct an examination to determine the most recent and valid testament. This process helps ensure the testator’s true intentions are honored.

Conflict resolution

Open and transparent communication within the family is essential during this challenging time. Keeping all parties informed of the legal proceedings and decisions can ensure a smoother process and minimize potential misunderstandings. Consider organizing family meetings to discuss the situation and address concerns. This proactive approach may foster unity and understanding among family members, potentially preventing disputes from escalating.

Discovering multiple wills during probate is a complex scenario that demands careful navigation. Seeking legal counsel, adhering to probate court procedures and maintaining open communication may be pivotal for a successful resolution.