FAQ: Will Contests - Do I have grounds for contesting a will? (Part 3 of 6)

Undue Execution
Revocation <<<<<
Incapacitation
Fraud
Undue Influence

In the previous posts in this series on will contests in New York, we discussed whom may contest a last will and testament and on what grounds a will may be contested.  Here, in Part 3, we will go into further detail on the second ground on which a last will and testament may be contested  – revocation.  Revocation is the claim is that the will is invalid on the basis that the Testator revoked or canceled it.  Remember, the information below focuses on will contests in New York and more specifically on will contests in New York City.

Revocation of a Last Will & Testament:

Under New York State Law, EPTL §3-4.1 provides that a will is considered revoked under the following situations:

  1. The Testator executed a subsequent will;
  2. The Testator clearly indicates, through a written document, an intention to revoke the will, which is executed with the same formalities of a will; or
  3. The Testator destroyed the original will by ripping, burning, tearing, or another act of destruction.

If the Testator revoked his last will and testament in such a manner, any prior wills are not automatically revived.  For example, if Thomas executed his last will and testament in 2008 and then executed a new last will and testament in 2010, then the 2008 will is considered revoked.  If Thomas then revokes the 2010 will, the 2008 will remain revoked subject to certain exceptions.  Therefore, assuming the 2008 and 2010 wills are the only wills ever executed by Thomas, he is then considered to have died with no will and his estate would be distributed according to the laws of intestacy.