In our blog posts in the past, we have reviewed the process of creating, probating, and enforcing a will. In many cases, this process is straightforward, but there are times when complicated factors sneak in. For example: what happens if a person dies with two wills? Which will serve as the controlling document? And how do you navigate this issue if you are going through the probate process?
Who Decides Which Will is the Valid Will?
In short, the probate judge is the person who will determine which will is valid when a decedent leaves behind more than one will. Sometimes, the most important factor in the judge’s decision will be the timing of the will – that is, the will that was created most recently will be the controlling will.
Other times, though, the calculus is more complicated. For a will to be valid, it must be handwritten, witnessed by two people, and signed by the person writing the will. If one of the wills in dispute does not meet all three requirements, whichever will does comply with the requirements is more likely to win out.
What Typically Happens in a Dispute About the Validity of a Will?
In disputes such as these, family members are likely to argue over details, such as which signature was valid, whether the will’s author was in the right state of mind while drafting the documents, and how exactly the will was written. These disputes can get ugly, especially with so much at stake. The best way to avoid this kind of argument is to use time and resources in the present to create a will that the court has no reason to question.
If you have found yourself wondering if any of the above applies to you or if you are in the middle of a dispute regarding multiple wills, our biggest piece of advice is to get in touch with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible Unfortunately, we can never be sure what the future holds. By getting your affairs in order now, you can make things easier and more efficient for your beneficiaries long after you are gone. Although the process may seem daunting, it reaps many rewards, and we cannot recommend enough that you get started today.
Have You Found Your Estate Planning Attorney in Texas?
At McCulloch & Miller, we have over 35 years of experience providing estate planning and probate services to Texans as they make their estate plans. Our team is proud to serve our community with a client-centered, empathetic, thorough approach, and we would be proud to serve you and your loved ones.
If you are looking for an attorney to help you with estate planning, elder law, or the creation and administration of a trust, give us a call today at 713-955-7281. If you prefer, you can also fill out our online form to have an attorney reach back out to you as soon as possible regarding your case.