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How do you revoke a will in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2018 | Estate Administration

Those who see to their estate planning early on in their lives in Ocean County are to be commended. Yet circumstances can change over time, and the wishes and desires of a testator may evolve with them to the point of him or her wanting to completely change his or her earlier will. Yet often times it may not be enough for your family member or friend to simply amend his or her old will; rather, the entire document may need to be completely revoked. The question then becomes how does one do that. 

You can find the exact guidelines on how to revoke a will in Section 3B:3-13 New Jersey’s state statutes. If your loved one has a flair for the dramatic, he or she can choose to revoke a will through a “revocatory act.” This may include: 

  • Burning a will
  • Tearing it up 
  • Otherwise completely obliterating it

Interestingly, the will itself does not necessarily need to be physically destroyed in order to be revoked in this matter. As long as the testator indicates an intent to perform a revocatory act on a will, it is considered revoked. Thus, one cannot preserve a copy and then present it later as a valid will. 

If, however, your family member or friend is looking for a more low-key method of revoking his or her will, he or she can just create a new one. Even after he or she is gone, the subsequent invalidates the first if it is inconsistent with the earlier one and you can testify as to the testator’s intent. The same is true if a subsequent will details the complete disposition of your loved one’s estate. If it does not, then the subsequent will is simply viewed as supplementing this first.