Are you considering revoking your will? If so, you’re likely concerned about “doing it right.” After all, if you don’t revoke your existing will properly, it could be legally enforceable. Meaning, your property can get into the wrong hands after you pass away – and you don’t want that.
If you’re like most people, you’ve heard that the best way to revoke a will is to burn it, shred it, or tear it up into pieces. Not so fast. Physically destroying the original document may not be enough to ensure it’s not used by the court upon your death.
It’s Common to Draft More Than One Will
It’s very common for people to draft wills more than once during their lifetime. Why? Because, circumstances in life change all the time. People get married. They have babies and they get divorced. Parents and adult children become estranged, and favorite charities shut down. Sometimes, beloved heirs develop substance abuse problems and their parents do not want their hard-earned money to support their son or daughter’s drug habit. All of the above circumstances can cause a person to want to revoke their will.
If something significant has changed in your life; for example, you got a divorce, or you had a falling out with one of your children, and your existing will does not reflect your wishes, it’s wise to do more than destroy the existing will. You should see an estate planning attorney about creating a new will.
Why You Need a New Will
“Why can’t I just tear up my will? Isn’t that sufficient?” You could do this, but what if there are copies of the will laying around and something happens to you before you get around to drafting a new will? Also, some probate courts are willing to accept a copy of a will, especially if no one is able to produce a different version.
While courts are cautious about accepting copies, you’re still taking a risk if you fail to create a new will. If a copy is found, even if no one can explain why the original is missing, it can make it impossible to revoke a will when a subsequent version does not exist. So, our advice is to always make a new will if you want to revoke an old one.