If you want to revoke a previously created will then you need to know the steps to complete this type of transaction. There are many reasons why you may want to go through with this process. For example, if you are getting married for the first time and want to create a will that mirrors that of your new spouse then it would make sense for you to want to revoke any prior will that you had created. Or, you may have just had a baby with your new spouse and want to be able to list that child as a beneficiary under the will.
Or you may find yourself in a much different financial position than you had been in the last time you created a will. As you acquired more property over the time you added to your initial will with documents known as codicils. A codicil allowed you to amend the will without having to revoke it. However, the number of codicils that are attached to the will have become so great that you are worried that if something were to happen to you that mistakes may be made when it comes to distributing property how you would like. As a result, revoking your original will and starting from scratch seems like the best option to you.
If you have undergone a lot of changes in your life then that is a good reason to review the prior version of your will to see if it makes sense for you to update the document or even create a brand-new version. You can revoke a will for any reason that you would like. There are no set circumstances that must be in place for you to revoke your will. Rather, all that is important is that you set about the revocation process properly and with careful planning in mind.
When you do not set about the process properly then issues and problems can arise that throw all your careful estate planning into a tizzy. The result can be that you have no valid will in place for when you pass away. All the time and money that went into drafting and signing a will would have been for nothing. The will itself would be worth less than the paper that it was printed. Not exactly the result that you were looking for, I imagine.
Most commonly, we see this happen when a person who has passed away (known as a decedent) has multiple wills in existence due to their not having revoked prior versions. Even if you had the best of intentions and had wanted to revoke prior versions of your will, if you did not do so properly then your family and beneficiaries are going to have a lot of trouble on their hands. Imagine a situation where your beneficiaries must argue with one another about which version of your will is the “real thing” while the others are simply old versions that are no longer current. They would be left to make arguments about which version displays your actual wishes and intent at the time of your passing. Their arguments would be based on large amounts of speculation because being able to make determinations of things like that can be very difficult to consider.
In life, the only constant changes. If you have experienced a great deal of change in your life in recent years, then updating your will may be something that you need to consider. In that case, the only way to update a will is to revoke any prior versions so there is no confusion about which version is the updated version and which versions are no longer valid. Taking the time to learn how to go about revoking a prior will is just as important as learning how to draft an updated will that reflects your intentions properly.
In today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are going to discuss how to revoke your current will so that you can create a valid and updated version of the document. The steps associated with revoking a prior will are not overly difficult or even time-consuming. However, like most legal processes that we write about here on our blog, there are some steps that you need to follow to ensure that this is all done correctly. There are consequences to your actions or inactions in this regard and you do not want to do anything that could potentially harm your beneficiary’s ability to collect property under the terms of your will.
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our estate planning attorneys take a great deal of pride in serving our community and helping people just like you make plans for end-of-life circumstances and estate planning generally. Estate planning is not something to take for granted or to put off for another day. The trouble with end-of-life planning is that the end of your life is not something that you can predict. One day it happens and then the rest is history.
Estate planning is something all of us should be thinking about
Estate planning is not something for the old, the wealthy, or anything else that you may have heard about. Rather, estate planning is something that every adult should engage in. Planning for the end of our lives is a responsibility that we owe to those around us. Even if we do not have children or do not own much property, giving our loved ones a road map to proceed with when it comes to our intentions for how our estate should be administered after our passing is a great gift to be able to pass on. It is not enough to be able to hope that everything turns out ok for our families. You can take concrete steps to ensure that your legacy is one of service. Creating a will is the best way to accomplish your goal.
We can schedule a free-of-charge consultation for you with one of our estate planning attorneys so that you can discuss your circumstances with an attorney. In that consultation, you can expect a few things. Number one, you can expect that you will encounter an attorney who will be patient and will listen to what you have to say. You may have run into situations where you have met with or worked with an attorney previously but have felt like you were not listened to. This is not going to be one of those consultations or encounters. Rather, our attorneys are contentious of you and your family and will take the time necessary to listen to what you are going through. Next, the attorney will learn more about what your goals are and what planning you have undertaken to that point when it comes to estate planning.
It is not enough to simply hope that things turn out ok for your family after you pass away. Depending upon your circumstances you may have many people in your life currently that could benefit a great deal from your taking the time to create a will. Or you may be in a situation where you need to revoke prior versions of your will so that an updated version can be instituted. Regardless of where you find yourself on the arc of estate planning, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can sit down to talk with you about your options. We will listen to you and take the time necessary to help you learn more about your needs, situation, and circumstances.
Finally, we will provide you with helpful information that is relevant to your life. The reality is that the information that we provide you with in today’s blog post may be helpful to a certain extent, but it is not specific to your life. How could it be? We don't know exactly what you are going through as far as your life is concerned and cannot provide you with the information that you need to fit you and your life. For that sort of specific information and guidance, you will need to schedule a consultation with one of our estate planning lawyers.
From there, if you feel comfortable with our office and believe that you want to hire us to assist you in drafting a will, revoking any previously created wills, and doing anything else regarding estate planning then you can make that decision. An attorney from our office will not tell you what to do when it comes to your will. Rather, our team will provide you with information, guidance, and perspective in revoking a prior will and creating an updated version. From there, you can be empowered to make decisions for yourself and your family that can benefit you all for generations to come. That is the sort of legacy that you want to leave for your family, we would imagine.
True nobility is not to create a vast amount of wealth for yourself to enjoy. Rather, the nobility is to plant trees the shade of which you will not personally be able to enjoy. Being able to leave a legacy that shows you had the best intentions for your family is one thing. However, if you can go the extra mile and create a will to help your family prepare for the end of your life then that is truly thinking outside of yourself and with your family in mind. That journey may begin with revoking a prior will and creating one that matches up with your current circumstances and life trajectory.
Revoking a will
When we talk about revoking a will, all that means is that you want to cancel any prior will that you have created so that you can then draft and complete a newer version. The older version that you revoke would no longer be a controlling document for your life and would instead be no worth from a legal perspective. This is what you want to accomplish given that there is no benefit to having multiple wills floating around in your name.
To revoke a will means to cancel out that will as be having any ability to determine how your property will be distributed upon your passing. This is different than having a will invalidated after your passing. By contesting the validity of a will through a probate court case, a family member or beneficiary may be able to have the prior version(s) of your will invalidated. This is what you are trying to avoid by properly revoking a will. What you want is for there to be no confusion about your intentions regarding having a will in place. When you pass away the ideal situation for your beneficiaries, from an estate planning perspective, is for there to be one will that needs to be followed. Having multiple wills that appear valid and will need to be contested in a courtroom is less than ideal and can be extremely costly to follow through on.
To best ensure that your beneficiaries receive the property of yours that you intend them to, your will needs to be clear, and it needs to be updated as the situation demands. If you created your will many years ago then you likely need to revisit the document so that there is no miscommunication or misinterpretation of your wishes after you pass away. What we just finished discussing a moment ago when it comes to contesting a will or trying to invalidate a will is not something that you want your family and other beneficiaries to have to go through. Rather, you will want to make sure your wishes are known to your family so that it can be smooth sailing (relatively speaking) when you do pass on.
Many situations may be relevant to your life where you could want to revoke a will. It is not important what your reason is for wanting to revoke a will. You may have seen the birth or passing of a relative that has occurred recently. You may have acquired new property of some sort that you need to account for. You may have gotten married, gotten divorced, or even moved to Texas from another state. The reason why you want to revoke a prior will isn't as important as actually doing so.
The process involved with canceling a will is what you need to be thinking about next once you decide about needing to update the document. Once you revoke any prior version of your will then you can move on with peace of mind to update the document. Until then you risk a situation where you pass away with multiple wills in existence. This is not ideal, to say the least, and can ruin otherwise thoughtful estate planning. Do not put your family and other beneficiaries in a position where they are having to argue over what version of your will is the correct one.
When you state in a new will that you declare that specific will to be your last will and that all prior versions are revoked, that is a strong statement that you are making. Any prior version of your will would be revoked and would no longer be looked to with any sort of authority. Do not leave it to doubt that you are revoking any prior versions of your will. While having a will with a more current date is a good indication that this is the version that reflects your most up-to-the-minute wishes, that is not always the assumption that will be made. Remove any doubt by including those magic words at the beginning of the new will.
Another method of revoking a prior version of a will is to simply destroy those versions before setting about the process of drafting a new will. Whether you put the will through a shredder, cut it up with scissors, draw a big “X” across all its pages or toss the document in a fire, there are multiple ways to go about destroying a will. You need to be careful to not only destroy the original, however but also to destroy any copies of that will.
Finally, just because you get married does not mean that any prior versions of your will are no longer valid. The last thing that you want is to get married only to have your family and beneficiaries discover that you had not updated your will. Having an ex-spouse in line to receive all your property at your passing is not the legacy that you want to leave, I would imagine. Rather, when major life events occur in your life make sure to update your will and revoke any prior versions.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed estate planning attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about estate planning and probate based on your specific circumstances.