How to Revoke a Last Will and Testament

How to Revoke a Last Will and TestamentWills may be revoked for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you’re getting married for the first time and you want to void your current will to name your new spouse as the main beneficiary of your estate. Maybe you’re a proud new parent who wants to ensure that your child receives a specific inheritance.

The changes don’t even have to be family-related. If you’ve invested in real estate and sold several properties over the past year while also investing in new ones, the distribution provisions in your existing will have to be modified. You’ve made so many amendments in the past, however, that it makes more sense to replace your existing will and all its codicils. 

In general, people revoke their wills because of life-changing events, but their reasons are unimportant. The most important thing is that wills are revoked properly. In the event that they aren’t, multiple wills may surface following your death, leaving loved ones to engage in expensive litigation in order to claim their inheritances. 

So how can you revoke a last will and testament in New York?

Express or Implied Revocation

When you make a new will, your old will does not automatically become null and void. You should include language in your new will that expressly declares that all prior wills are to be revoked (express revocation) or create a new will that is completely inconsistent with the old will (aka implied revocation).

Complete Destruction

This method requires that a will be utterly destroyed in order to be revoked. There are several ways in which a will can be destroyed, including tearing it up, shredding it, or burning it. The destruction of a will is an effective way of revoking it as long as all copies and the original are destroyed. In our experience, this is the most effective method, as it ensures that no previous versions can come back to complicate matters.

Does Divorce or Marriage Revoke a Will?

Not entirely. 

The dissolution of a marriage or a judicial separation revokes any revocable dispositions made to the spouse during the marriage. This includes, but is not limited to, dispositions made in a last will and testament as well as beneficiaries designations on bank accounts, life insurance policies, pensions, and revocable trusts.

Similarly, if you die while legally married and did not update your will to include your spouse, they may be still entitled to an elective share of your property. In New York, they are entitled to receive $50,000 or one-third of your estate (whichever is more). If there are no children, their share goes up to half the estate.

As you can imagine, failing to revoke your will to accommodate these life changes can cause conflict with other beneficiaries and create a situation that could have been avoided by completely revoking the will in the first place.

Questions? Speak to a Queens Probate Lawyer Today! 

No matter what the reason is for revoking the will, you should always plan to execute a new one as soon as the old one is revoked. Making changes to your will in response to changes in your life, such as remarriage or the birth of additional children, is an important consideration. At Ledwidge & Associates, P.C., we can help you ensure that your current will always reflects your intentions and that when your time comes, it won’t be impacted by earlier goals. To speak to an estate planning attorney, please call 718.276.6656. 

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How to Revoke a Last Will and Testament

Ledwidge & Associates

Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. in New York City has years of experience helping clients create estate plans that fit their needs. We have the experience and resources to handle your critical legal matters with the utmost care and attention to detail.
How to Revoke a Last Will and Testament

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