How Do You Revoke a Will?
Wills can always be changed or revoked by the person who made the will. There are a few ways that this can be accomplished:
Revoke the Old Will By Writing a New Will
The most common way of revoking a will is to write a new will that expressly revokes a will that was previously executed. Virtually all of the wills we prepare contain a clause that states that the this is the individuals last will and testament and it revokes all prior wills. But what if the new will does not expressly revoke the old one? Generally, if the provisions of the new will, such as property distribution or appointment of a certain executor, are inconsistent with the old will, the probate Court will likely consider this a revocation of the old will.
Revocation by Physical Act
In Tennessee, physically destroying a will revokes the will. If you decide to destroy your will be sure that you physically perform the act or that you direct someone to destroy the will. Set it on fire, throw it away, shred it - your decision.
Be careful about writing over wills to revoke certain provisions. If you must mark out certain clauses or provisions in the will, they need to be done in your handwriting and signed by you somewhere on the paper. However, we strongly encourage you to contact an estate planning attorney if you desire to strike certain provisions in your will. Writing over certain provisions can create confusion and ambiguity.
Revocation by Operation of Law
It is not uncommon for a married couple that previously had wills leaving each other as primary beneficiary to forget to update their wills after the divorce. For instance, if you forgot to remove your ex-husband's name as the primary beneficiary of your estate, there is worry that your ex-husband would inherit everything. Rest easy. There is a specific Tennessee statute that says that your ex-spouse is cut out of the will should the will not be updated after your divorce. In practice, what happens is that the ex-spouse is considered to have predeceased you and will not inherit from you.
Remember to Keep You Will Updated
If you want to revoke your will or simply make a few changes or amendments, we strongly encourage you to speak with an estate planning attorney to help you through this process. Attorney John Crow has helped clients throughout the Clarksville community and surrounding counties make revisions that greatly streamline and simply their estate planning process.