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Key legal facts about revoking a will in California

Torrance Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

Key legal facts about revoking a will in California

In California, creating an estate plan is a fundamental aspect of being fully prepared for the future. A will is the most basic part of an estate plan and can be relatively simple. However, it is imperative that the document is specifically tailored to the person’s needs and desires. Even after the will is complete, it might need to be changed or even revoked completely. If, for example, the person – the testator – was married or in a domestic partnership at the time the will was executed and subsequently moved on from the relationship, that person might not want the former spouse or partner named in the will. Understanding key aspects of a will revocation is vital.

Steps to revoke a will and how ending a marriage is relevant in California

If the testator creates and executes a will after a prior will, the prior will is automatically revoked if it expressly says so or the two wills are inconsistent. It can also be revoked by burning, canceling, obliterating, tearing or destroying it with the objective being to revoke it. This must be done by the testator or a person in the testator’s presence who was ordered by the testator to do so.

For people who were married and named the spouse in the will but since had a dissolution or annulment and did not expressly state otherwise, the following will be revoked: any property that was set to be inherited by the former spouse; provisions that the former spouse would have powers of appointment; and provisions that the former spouse would have a guardianship, conservatorship, be an executor or trustee. In some cases, the couple that parted ways decide to reunite and gets remarried. If that happens, then the will is revived. These facts are also true in a domestic partnership.

Understanding estate planning can avoid various problems

After creating an estate plan, many people might be under the impression that it does not need to be altered. Regardless of a person’s age when a will is created and executed, situations might arise that require wills and trusts to be updated, revoked and rewritten. Forgetting this crucial aspect of estate planning can result in legal challenges among heirs even after a marital dissolution. Knowing the facts about wills is integral to having a comprehensive and well-planned document. For these and other issues, it useful to have professional guidance.