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How to Tell if a Will Was Revoked or Replaced

While you’ll create your will while you’re still alive, it will be one of your loved ones sorting through your paperwork to find it once you pass away. If you have multiple documents or it’s not easy for them to find, it’s easy to make mistakes about what the will includes or if it’s the most recent version.

Storing only the most recent version of your will makes it simpler for your personal representative to be completely clear that they have the right version. Previous wills should ideally be destroyed.

If you’re keeping copies of old wills as possible evidence that your executor might need if a family member comes forward with those older wills, sort them by date with the newest at the front. You might even leave behind a letter for your executor stating that there are previous but invalid versions of your will if you are concerned about the possibility of a will contest. If you’re the executor right now, check the dates on all the wills. If they all include a statement about revoking prior wills, the most recent one is the accurate one.

If you find a will that has handwriting on it, such as notes in the margins, this might be notes for editing. See if you can contact the estate planning lawyer who helped your family member draft the will. If you can only find a copy of the will, keep searching. You’ll want an original to submit to probate court.

If no valid version of the will can be found intestate succession rules might apply.

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