Pompano Beach Multiple Wills Lawyer
Making a will is an essential step in deciding how to distribute your assets and property to family members and others after you are gone. But not uncommonly, things change during your lifetime that make you revisit that will you made. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces and other major life events have you rethinking the gifts and bequests in your will. Perhaps a beneficiary in your will has become independently wealthy and no longer in need of a substantial gift, or disabled and needy beyond what you originally planned. Sometimes a testator’s relationship with an intended beneficiary simply changes over time, whether for better or worse.
For these reasons and others, it is not uncommon for an individual to revoke an old will and create a new will. Unfortunately, sometimes this fact creates the existence of multiple wills with different provisions, creating confusion and litigation when it comes time to probate the will. For disputes in Broward County probate court, Pompano Beach estate litigation lawyer Mark R. Manceri provides the advice and representation of a Florida Board-certified specialist in wills, trusts and estates to aid in the resolution of will contests and probate disputes involving multiple wills.
Issues with will revocations in Pompano Beach
When creating a new will, the terms of the will should clearly state that the will supersedes all other wills made by the testator. An earlier will can be revoked by making a new will in this manner, or by destroying the old will. Unfortunately, there may still be copies of older wills in existence that come to light when it is time to probate the last will. If the prior wills were not properly revoked through a new writing or by physical act, there may be confusion about whether the later will is valid, or whether an older will should be admitted to probate instead.
Also, if a will created later in life is drastically different from an earlier will, even if the older will was properly revoked, a beneficiary who was treated more favorably in the older will may contest the later will, challenging the testator’s mental capacity at the time the later will was made, or alleging it was the product of the undue influence of a spouse, adult child, caretaker or other person especially close to the testator later in life.
Codicils may help or may lead to more litigation
Rather than creating a new will, the testator may prefer to amend the existing will and avoid the prospect of multiple wills in existence. Simply writing in a new paragraph on a will or scratching out a portion of the will is not effective and will only create more grounds to contest the will. Instead, a codicil can be added to the will. A codicil is a separate writing that adds to the will, either by including new provisions or changing or revoking current provisions in the will. To be effective, a codicil must meet all the legal formalities and requirements of a valid will – it must be in writing, signed and witnessed, etc. If the terms of the codicil are ambiguous, however, or if they change an interest in the will to a beneficiary’s detriment, there could still be challenges and litigation based on the validity of the codicil, the testator’s capacity or intent, and other factors.
Resolve Disputes with Multiple Wills in Pompano Beach & Broward County Probate Court
If you find yourself in a situation where there are multiple wills and confusion about which is the proper will to be probated, contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A. in Pompano Beach to share your concerns with a knowledgeable and experienced Florida Board-certified attorney specializing in estate litigation in Broward County.