What Happens When There Are Two Wills? - New York Estate Planning News

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What Happens When There Are Two Wills?

Two wills can cause many problems -- take Huguette Clark's wills, for example. A feud over the $300 million dollar copper mining fortune of the late heiress has finally come to a resolution in late September 2013. The final result benefits mostly arts charities and some distant relatives, The Associated Press reports.

The late Clark rarely made a public appearance after the 60s, and she died estranged, with no close relatives. What exactly was the issue with her wills?

Two Wills, Two Purposes

Clark died in 2011 at the age of 104, leaving behind her fortune in two separate wills. One of which benefited her distant relatives, while the second one excluded them and mostly made bequests to arts charities, a hospital, and her nurse.

The relatives had alleged a number of problems with the latter will, including claims that caregivers and advisers manipulated Clark. In the end, the judge approved a solution that combined elements from the two wills.

Two Wills, Multiple Problems

Leaving behind multiple wills can create a whole host of issues. First of all, if they have conflicting terms, which one is valid? Also, did the decedent ever indicate that there would be more than one will?

The most important factor that courts will turn to in evaluating the validity of a will is determining the testator's intent and ensuring that it is carried out to the fullest. Prospective beneficiaries, family members, and friends will often bring forth extrinsic evidence to prove the testator's intent.

It's best to have one formal will and also ensure that it is updated along with life's many changes. If you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of maintaining your own will, check out LegalStreet's prepaid plan, which will give you access to easily create (and update) your own will.

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