One common challenge that arises in estate administration is when multiple wills exist. This scenario can add a layer of complexity to an already intricate process.
Estate administration involves managing and distributing a deceased person’s assets and debts according to their will or, if they passed on without a will, according to intestate laws. When multiple wills are involved, it becomes imperative to determine the validity of each document and which one takes precedence.
Identifying the valid will
The first step in handling multiple wills is identifying the valid one. Oklahoma law follows the “last will and testament” principle, meaning the most recently executed will is considered valid. This underscores the importance of regularly updating one’s will to reflect changing circumstances.
In cases of multiple wills, the executor named in the valid will assumes this crucial role. An executor is an individual appointed in the will to carry out the deceased’s wishes. Their primary duty is to identify and gather the deceased’s assets, which may include real estate, financial accounts and personal property. They are also responsible for managing these assets during the administration process.
Handling multiple wills can lead to conflicts among beneficiaries, especially if the contents of the wills differ significantly. Beneficiaries may contest the will by claiming that the deceased was under undue influence when creating it. Proving undue influence can be complex and often requires legal expertise.
Another challenge arises when beneficiaries argue that the deceased’s mental capacity was compromised when creating the valid will. This may involve medical records and professional testimony to determine the deceased’s mental state.
Estate administration becomes significantly more complex when multiple wills exist. Seeking the guidance of a seasoned professional is crucial to help ensure a seamless and legally sound process.