You have the best of intentions when you execute a will, wanting to ease the burden on loved ones by leaving instructions on the distribution of your estate after your death. But executing a will isn't always a matter of set it and forget it. Sometimes a change in circumstances-the passage of time, the unexpected loss of a loved one, or a change in your financial situation-can lead you to change your mind about how you want your estate distributed. Is revoking a will in WV the answer? Read on to find out.
The Importance of Properly Revoking a Will in WV
Changing your will may sound like a simple task, but the devil is in the details. Just as the execution of a will must follow the relevant West Virginia statutes, changing or revoking a will in WV must also comply with the relevant West Virginia Code. You need to understand the statutory requirements to make sure that any changes you make to your will are going to be enforceable. After all, that's exactly why you carefully executed a will in the first place.
What Does It Mean to Revoke a Will?
Can a will be withdrawn in WV? The answer, in short, is yes, and the process to accomplish that is revocation. In the context of wills and estate planning, revocation means the cancellation of that document, rendering it ineffective and unenforceable. Following the statutory steps for revoking a will makes the entire document null and void.
How Can a Will Be Revoked in WV?
- Make out a valid new will or codicil;
- Document the intent to revoke your will in a writing that meets the following requirements:
- You are at least 18 years old;
- You are of sound mind;
- You must sign the document or someone must sign at your direction and in your presence and in the presence of two witnesses; and
- The two witnesses must sign the document in the presence of each other;
- Destruction of the will or the testator's signature on the will by the testator or someone at his or her direction and in the testator's presence by burning, tearing, cutting, canceling, obliterating, or in some other fashion destroying the same.
Using any one of these methods should help avoid any potential confusion regarding your intent.
Special Circumstances: Revocation by Divorce or Annulment
Another avenue for revoking a will in WV also exists and involves the validity of a will after divorce. Under West Virginia Code § 41-1-6, the termination of a marriage by divorce or annulment revokes any of the following with relation to the former spouse:
- A gift or bequest;
- An appointment of property;
- The grant of a general or special power of appointment; and
- The nomination of the former spouse as executor, trustee, guardian, or conservator (unless the will provides expressly otherwise).
Note that the end of the marriage does not invalidate the will entirely but only the gifts, appointments, or nominations naming the former spouse. Also, your subsequent remarriage to that spouse revives the parts of the will that were revoked by the divorce or annulment.
Reversing the Revocation of a Will in WV
Just as circumstances changed in a way to prompt you to revoke your will, they may change again in a way that makes you want your original will to be valid and effective again. Under West Virginia Code § 41-1-8, you can revive your old will by re-executing the same pursuant to the statutory requirements in West Virginia Code § 41-1-1 et seq. for executing a valid will. This may or may not be possible depending on the manner you chose for revoking your will.
If the revocation of your will was accomplished by utterly destroying the document, you can execute a new will that contains the same provisions as the one you wish to revive.
Seek Legal Expertise in Revoking a Will in WV
Leaving an improperly revoked will can lead to a dispute between loved ones after your death. Parties seeking to settle such disputes may have to turn to the courts to resolve the matter, and the court's ultimate decision may not align with your final wishes.
To avoid any potential confusion or departure from your wishes with regard to your estate, consult an experienced WV estate planning attorney before revoking your will in WV. For more information, contact Anna M. Price at Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC by calling (304) 523-2100 locally or (866) 617-4736 toll-free or by completing her online contact form.