It some times happens that circumstances change in a person’s life and the person desires to revoke a prior will. Perhaps the individual divorced or got remarried and the original will no longer matches his or her intentions for the distribution of his or her estate. This raises the question of how does one effectively revoke a prior will?
The answer is contained in 20 Pa.C.S. § 2505. Pennsylvania law provides several methods for revoking a will. The first, and best, is to create a new will. This method is strengthened by including language in the new will explicitly revoking the prior will.
Another method would be to execute a revocation. A revocation would be a written document explicitly revoking the prior will without creating a new will, thereby creating a “will vacuum” of sorts. The revocation, however, must conform with the prior will, meaning that it must be “executed and proved in the manner required of wills.”
The third way to revoke a will would be to physically destroy the document. The statute provides that “by being burnt, torn, canceled, obliterated, or destroyed, with the intent and for the purpose of revocation,” a will may be revoked. This method, however, typically requires witnesses to verify the testator’s intent to revoke the will and is, therefore, not the most efficient method of revocation.
If you want to revoke a prior will, whether or not you are interested in creating a new will, please contact me, Matthew T. Hovey, Esquire. My firm offers free initial consultations during which I can review your estate planning needs. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.