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My deceased parent left behind 2 wills, what now?

In the midst of all the confusion and grief your family is going through in New York because your parent has passed away, passed away, you learn they left behind two wills. While this may not seem like a big deal for everyone to get upset about, it can cause a great deal of conflict and tension between you and your family members. 

Your loved one could have left behind multiple wills for a variety of reasons. They may have forgotten where they kept their original one, went through multiple life events where they felt the need to update their estate plans or simply failed toss out a previous version. Regardless of their reasons, take some time to review what happens when someone leaves behind multiple wills

Probate court must determine which will is valid 

The problem that arises when there are two or more wills is that it can be hard to determine which one is the latest version. If they are not dated, your parent did not revoke a previous version and you are having trouble figuring out which will is the more recent version, you will need to submit them to probate court to sort things out. 

Potential outcomes 

If probate court decides that the two wills are very similar to each other, they may invalidate the one that appears to be the earliest version. If the courts determine that there are major differences between the documents, they may probate both. These are just two common ways probate court handle multiple will cases.

How the courts determine intent 

Several things need to occur in order for the courts to know which will to make effective. They will assess the testator’s state of mind and health at the time those documents were created by using information from their medical documents and statements from family members and other affiliated parties. According to FindLaw, in order for a will to be valid, it must be created without any signs of undue influence, duress, fraud and mistakes. It must be signed by two witnesses who do not benefit from it and the testator, and your parent must have been cognizant of what they were doing and all their assets. 

If any of those factors are lacking in either wills, the document that is missing key elements becomes invalid. The will that meets all requirements becomes your deceased parent’s legal last will.

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