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A Court’s Course of Action When Presented with Multiple Estate Planning Documents

Posted on in Estate Planning

Naperville estate planning lawyers, estate planning documents, estate planning services, Illinois estate planning, Illinois willFor some Illinois residents, creating their first estate planning document, such as a will or trust, is a positive step in protecting their assets and providing certainty for their loved ones following their deaths. Others, however, are prolific creators of estate planning documents, generating several wills, trusts, and/or other estate planning documents over the course of their lives. If not done properly, these multiple incarnations can cause headaches for the creator’s loved ones and beneficiaries as well as for probate courts.

What Does a Court Do When Presented with Multiple Estate Planning Documents?

When a court is presented with several wills or other estate planning documents, all purporting to be executed by the same decedent, a court must sift through the various documents to determine which, if any, is the document that should be followed and enforced by the court. In making this determination, a court may employ one or more of the following guidelines:

  • Improperly executed documents may be disregarded: If a will or other document is not executed in accordance with the appropriate statutes (such as a will that is not signed by the testator), the court may determine not to enforce that particular document. Similarly, the court may not to enforce a document if evidence suggests that a particular document was created at a time when the creator did not have the requisite mental capacity.

  • Document that is last in time may be enforced over others: Even if a will or other estate planning document does not specifically revoke other similar documents that the creator may have previously made, a court may still choose to enforce the most recent document that was created—especially if that document contains language or other indicators that may suggest that the creator intended this most recent document to apply.

  • Extrinsic evidence can help reveal intentions: If the court deems it necessary, the court may receive evidence and testimony about the decedent’s intentions from the decedent’s loved ones and/or other witnesses. This evidence or testimony can help the court determine which estate planning document he or she wanted to apply in the event of his or her death.

What Role Does a Will County Estate Planning Attorney Play?

When you and other family members and/or beneficiaries of the decedent find that the decedent has left more than one version of a will or other estate planning document, resolving the question of what document should apply is necessary in order for you to wrap up the decedent’s estate and distribute any property he or she may have had pursuant to his or her final wishes.

The dedicated Naperville estate planning lawyers at Robertson Legal Group, LLC can help you and your family avoid this type of problem by helping you create a comprehensive and clear estate plan. We will walk you through the process of establishing a current plan for your assets and affairs while revoking any previous plans you may have made so as to eliminate confusion. Contact us today by phone or online to learn more about our estate planning services.


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