It’s an honor to respect your loved one’s will by distributing their wealth according to their last wishes. But what happens when there are multiple wills? This problem occurs when someone creates a new will but fails to revoke or destroy an older version.

This situation can cause legal issues and disputes among beneficiaries. Thankfully, the court can step in to consider the circumstances under which each will was created and the testator’s intentions.

Probate court proceedings

The first step in a multiple wills case is filing for probate so the court can examine each will to determine which one is valid. The court will use the factors to arrive at a sound conclusion:

  • The dates on the wills
  • The mental capacity of the deceased at the time of making each will
  • Whether or not there was any coercion involved in making the wills

Establishing the validity of the wills

Once the probate process concludes, the court will select the legally binding will. In Buffalo, New York, a will is considered valid if it meets these requirements:

  • The testator (the person who created the will) must be at least 18 years old
  • The testator must have been of sound mind
  • The will must have been in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses
  • The witnesses must also have signed the will in the testator’s presence

If the court finds one of the wills valid, the others will be considered invalid. But suppose the court finds that all wills are valid. In that case, it must decide which will take precedence.

Resolving disputes

If there are disputes among the beneficiaries regarding which will is valid or how the estate should be administered, the probate court will hold a hearing to resolve the issues. The court will listen to both parties’ arguments and decide based on the evidence presented. Sometimes, the court may appoint a neutral third party to administer the estate.

Estate administration

The estate administration process can begin after all disputes have been resolved. The executor named in the valid will is responsible for administering the estate. They will collect the assets, pay off any debts and distribute the remaining assets among the beneficiaries according to the terms of the validated will.

The desire to fulfill your loved one’s last wishes can be challenged if they leave multiple wills. Thankfully, with a detailed strategy, you can potentially resolve all issues and fulfill their last wish and testament. As a result, seeking legal guidance will likely be helpful at this time.