Though it does not happen often, there are certain situations where a testator may have more than one will for an estate. In such cases, beneficiaries may find themselves on opposite sides of a will contest.
In order to win a will contest it is important to understand what it entails. In regard to a dueling will case, there are a few key contributors to be aware of.
If a will is in place and a party discovers another will, the party must present the will within the allotted timeframe, usually four years after probate. As long as the party submits the alternate will within the timeframe, the courts may consider it. Should the newly discovered will be newer than the old will, the courts may deem it the correct version to administer.
A common concern for any will is that it meets the law. Connecticut’s will laws strictly detail the requirements for the creation and implementation of a will. If both wills do not fully meet the requirements, the courts may determine that the will that does is the correct one to use, regardless of dates. However, if both wills meet the will stipulations, the courts may examine them and look for specific verbiage in either document that may help to eliminate or elevate one or the other. For example, if the newer will states the revocation of previous wills, the second will would stand as the valid option.
If the verbiage does not indicate the right will to use, the courts may examine the two documents to determine the differences. When the wills show minor differences between the two, the court usually determines the newer version to be valid. On the other hand, if the two documents show major differences, the courts usually lean towards their process when there is no will in place, and go with the option that leaves the most assets to the immediate family.
These are a few key contributions to understand and be aware of. Those with additional questions may consider consulting with a knowledgeable attorney.