At The Forefront Of Disability And Elder Law

Does destroying a new will revive an old will?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Probate |

If you stand to gain an inheritance from a deceased family member, you might find yourself dealing with confusing questions if there are disputes over a will. For instance, your relative may have written a new will to revoke an old one, but since destroyed or revoked the new will. You may wonder if the old will goes back into effect.

Fortunately, the state of Washington addresses this question as part of its estate laws.

When a destroyed will stays inactive

When it comes to estate planning, the legally expressed wishes of a person are what counts. So if an individual creates a new will that expressly voids an old will but later destroys the new will, it does not mean the old will becomes valid again. This is because revoking a new will does not automatically communicate any desire to revive an old will.

Actions that can restore an old will

According to state law, it must be the intention of the testator that an old will is revived. Therefore, there must be a legally provable document that states a desire to reactivate a destroyed will. Alternatively, a testator may make a succeeding declaration of intent to reactivate an old will, or the circumstances of revoking the will may provide evidence of such intent.

Additionally, a person can revive an old will by revoking a codicil, which is an amendment to an existing will that changes its terms. If an abolished codicil revoked a will in full or in part but is no longer in effect, the terms of the old will impacted by the codicil shall become legally valid once more.

Probate can wade into uncertain waters, which is why gathering every document and statement made about a will can make a difference if there is genuine doubt about whether a particular will truly expresses the wishes of its creator.


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