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Why it’s crucial to leave only one will

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2023 | Estate Planning

By having a will and possibly other estate plan documents, you can help ensure that your family will receive your assets as you intend after you’re gone. That’s just one of the many benefits of having a clear, detailed, legally sound estate plan.

If you put your will in place some years ago, it’s to be expected that there will be changes in your life and family that will require you to make changes. It’s essential, however, to do that correctly so that there’s no confusion about what your most current wishes were. That means having your current will signed and notarized as required by law and destroying all previous versions (or at the very least, clearly marking them as no longer valid).

Multiple wills can cause multiple issues

It’s not uncommon for families to find multiple wills among a loved one’s belongings after they’re gone that are contradictory and contain crossed-out sections and handwritten notes. This is only going to cause confusion and possible conflict among family members. It almost certainly will require a judge to make a final determination of which one to use. That’s going to cost your family money and delay the settling of your estate and distribution of your assets.

One very famous example is music icon Aretha Franklin. Her family found three handwritten wills in her Detroit home after her 2018 death and then an unsigned draft of yet another will several years later.

If you craft your will and other estate planning documents with legal guidance, it’s typically relatively easy to modify them as needed over the years. It’s better to put a will in place that reflects your current wishes and make changes as needed than to wait until you’re elderly and/or sick. When you have estate planning guidance, you can also help ensure that all previous versions are destroyed or otherwise handled appropriately so that your family doesn’t have to endure any added stress after you’re gone.