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Does Destroying the Will Revoke It?


Revoking a will can be a complicated legal process, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the requirements under Florida law. Destroying a will may seem like a simple way to revoke it, but it’s important to understand the nuances of the process to avoid any unintended consequences.

Our Pompano Beach revoked will lawyer at Mark R. Manceri, P.A., can help you explore some of the key considerations involved in revoking a will in Florida, including what happens if the will is destroyed by someone other than the testator.

Does Destroying the Will Revoke It?

In Florida, destroying a will can revoke it when done with the intent of revocation. Under Florida Statutes § 732.506, a will can be revoked by tearing, defacing, burning, or otherwise destroying the document with the intent of revocation.

The law requires that the testator intentionally and voluntarily revoke the will, which means accidental destruction of the document may not result in its revocation. This means that while destroying the will may be evidence of revocation, it may not always be enough on its own to invalidate the document. To properly revoke a will, the testator must follow a legal procedure established by state law.

What if the Will Is Destroyed by Someone Other Than the Testator?

If the will is destroyed by someone other than the testator, the legal result depends on the circumstances of the destruction. If the destruction was accidental or unauthorized, the testator may be able to have the will formally “proved” in probate court based on a copy or secondary evidence.

If, on the other hand, the testator instructed someone else to destroy the document and did not write a new one, the testator’s estate will be treated as if there was no will in effect. This means that the estate will be distributed according to Florida’s intestacy laws, which may not reflect the testator’s wishes.

How to Properly Revoke a Will in Florida?

To properly revoke a will in Florida, the testator should consult with an experienced attorney who can help navigate the legal requirements. Florida law provides three methods to properly revoke a will:

  1. Provide written instruction to revoke the document;
  2. Destroy the document by a physical act (e.g., burning or tearing); and
  3. Operation of law (e.g., in the event of divorce).

It’s important to note that the testator must have testamentary capacity at the time of revocation, meaning that they understand the nature and extent of their property and are aware of the legal consequences of their actions.

Does Divorce Result in Automatic Revocation of the Will?

In Florida, divorce automatically revokes any provisions in the will that relate to the former spouse. This means that if the testator’s will names their spouse as a beneficiary or executor, those provisions will be revoked upon divorce. However, divorce does not necessarily revoke the entire will, and the remainder of the document will remain in effect unless it is properly revoked. Individuals should always review and update their estate planning documents after major life events such as divorce to ensure that their wishes are accurately reflected.

Want to Revoke a Will? Contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A.

Revoking a will is an important step in estate planning, and it’s essential to follow the legal requirements to ensure that the revocation is effective. You might want to speak with an experienced lawyer to determine your best course of action if you want to revoke your will. Reach out to Mark R. Manceri, P.A., to get a case evaluation. Call 954-491-7099 today.



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