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You found 3 wills in Mom's stuff: Now what?

Losing your mother was hard, so it wasn't easy to sort through her personal papers and other items -- but you knew it was a necessary task. For one thing, you needed to find her will.

The only problem is that you found three wills instead of just one. All three wills are somewhat different and, as her executor, you have one big question: What do you do now?

The odds are high that your mother's financial status and wishes changed and evolved over time. She may not have realized that some changes to a will are best accomplished through an update, or codicil. She probably had no idea what she needed to do to properly revoke or destroy the old will.

You cannot simply assume that the most recent will is the valid one and destroy the others. Every state has specific laws about what makes a will valid. In Connecticut, for example, a will has to have two witnesses who signed the document in the testator's presence before it can be considered valid. If you mom had an internet-produced will that was made after the will she had written by an attorney several decades ago, you have no way of knowing if that latter document is legal.

If you are in charge of relative's estate and you've found multiple wills, don't take any chances. Making the wrong decision could open you up to personal liability and provoke lawsuits among the heirs. It's wise to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney about the issue before you make any more decisions.

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