How Long Does A Will Last?
A will is a document that outlines a person’s wishes pertaining to the distribution of their property after their death. Wills generally provide for the distribution of both real property, such as land and houses and personal property, such as cars, cash and jewelry. The person making the will is called the “testator.” The question often arises about how long does a will last? Wills generally last until they are revoked by the testator or invalidated by a court. There are several ways in which a will can be revoked by the testator. Additionally, a will can be invalidated by a court for a variety of reasons. Both revocation and invalidation terminate the legality of the will.
A will can be revoked when the testator makes a new will. A new will generally revokes an old will. Wills are typically drafted with a clause that expressly revokes any previous wills and codicils. As long as the subsequent will is properly executed it will terminate any previous will. A will can also be revoked if the testator physically destroys the will with the intent to revoke the will. The testator’s intention is the critical element in considering cases of revocation by destruction of the will. The laws pertaining to the effective revocation of a will vary from state to state.
Sometimes a will is held to be invalid by a court. A court can invalidate a will for a variety of reasons including improper execution. A will must be properly executed according to state law to be valid. Usually, a testator must sign the will in front of several competent witnesses. A witness is not considered competent if they are a beneficiary under the terms of the will. A court may invalidate a will because it did not meet the minimum statutory requirements for a valid will under state law. A court may also invalidate a will if it determines that the testator was not mentally competent or was under duress or undue influence at the time of the execution of the will. Invalidation for any reason will terminate the will.
Wills generally do not expire on their own. The answer to the question “How long does a will last?” is: until the will is revoked or invalidated by a court, or otherwise it is valid for eternity. The laws pertaining to wills are quite complex and are dependent upon each state’s statutory law and case law, so make sure to seek professional advice from a qualified attorney concerning the validity of your will.