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Revoking and reviving a will must be done according to the law

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Estate Planning And Probate

In Arkansas, it is important for people of all ages to have at least a basic estate plan. That is generally done by writing a will. However, as life changes, people may need to update their will or revoke it entirely. There are even times when a revoked will needs to be revived.

These issues might sound complex, but just like other aspects of estate planning, it is not so difficult once the process is fully understood. A key is to ensure that it is done legally to avoid the will being called into question after the person has passed on. This can ruin the testator’s intentions and lead to disputes among family members and others who say the will is unfair.

Know the basics for all aspects of a will

It is imperative to adhere to the fundamentals of a will when it is being written, executed, revoked and revived. Any will is considered valid if it is written by a person who is at least 18 and is of sound mind. They are considered of sound mind provided they could think rationally and were aware of what they were doing when they wrote the document. There must be two competent witnesses who were at least 18 and had no interest in its contents. It must then be signed.

There are many reasons why a will might need to be revoked. Dramatic life changes such as a divorce, remarriage, having children, having grandchildren, a fortunate financial windfall – all are justifications to revoke the will and start over. It must be done according to the law to be valid.

Simply writing a new will revokes the previous one if there are inconsistencies between the two. The will can also be revoked by destroying it. The testator can do this or instruct another person to do so.

The will is automatically changed if a person gets divorced and they do not stipulate that the former spouse should still receive what they were set to receive in the will. For example, a person might have left their marital home, automobiles and a retirement account to the spouse. The divorce revokes this without the testator needing to do anything. It is crucial for the testator to understand this if they want the former spouse to still receive certain properties despite the divorce.

A revoked will can be revived if it is re-executed. It can also be revived if it is referenced or incorporated in a subsequent will. Apart from that, it cannot be revived if it was revoked or found invalid.

Estate planning should not be ignored

People come up with myriad justifications as to why they have not taken the necessary steps to create a basic estate plan by writing a will. This might be viewed as a problem for younger people, but even older people forget that a will is a vital document to protect their loved ones.

After writing the will, it is useful to remember that it might need to be periodically reviewed and updated. Sometimes, it needs to be revoked completely. To avoid disagreements among loved ones and to make sure the testator’s objectives are clearly communicated, knowing how to write, update, revoke and revive a will is a wise step.