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Estate litigation and when a will can be revoked

When a Minnesota resident writes a will, it is an unfortunate reality that estate litigation can sometimes arise with a will contest as part of a legal dispute. Understanding what the law says about the revocation of a will by writing or act is a key factor in knowing whether or not the will a testator crafted is valid. There are certain instances in which a will can be revoked in full or in part.

If the testator executes a will after the initial will and it revokes the previous one in part expressly or by inconsistency, the previous one will be revoked. A revocatory act on the will can be done if the testator did so with the intention and to revoke it or part of it. It can also be done if another individual performed the act while the testator was conscious and present and was giving direction to do so. A revocatory act on the will can include it being burned, torn, canceled or destroyed in whole or in part. It will be considered a revocatory act even if none of the words on the will were affected by the damaging acts.

When the subsequent will does not revoke the prior will, its execution will do so if the testator intended that it be for that purpose. The testator will be presumed to have intended to replace the prior will with a new will rather than supplement it if it completely disposes of the estate. There must be clear and convincing evidence to rebut this presumption. When the testator dies, the subsequent will is in effect. If the will does not completely dispose of the estate, it will be viewed as a supplement to the previous will. This too must be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.

Since wills can be complicated, knowing the law as to when it can be revoked or supplemented is a key during any probate litigation. Having legal help from the beginning of the will process and throughout is an imperative. Speaking to an attorney can help.

Source: revisor.mn.gov, "524.2-507 Revocation By Writing Or By Act.," accessed on Nov. 29, 2016

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