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Home  »  Estate PlanningLong Term Care Planning   »   Does A New Will Override An Old Will In Northern California? 

Does A New Will Override An Old Will In Northern California? 

Navigating probate cases in Northern California can be challenging, especially when a new will emerges. The first question that comes to mind in this type of situation is does a new will override an old will in Northern California. 

Legally, if a new will is found and it has a different content than the last will, everything will be according to it. However, there are exceptions. For a new will to override an old one, it must be valid and legally correct. If not, it cannot supersede the old will.

Here in this guide, we’ll explain what California laws say about the will and whether a new will cancels an old will. We’ll also touch on the subject such as the importance of notifying the executor or registering the will.

Laws of Will In California

California has some important laws about creating a will. If any will doesn’t meet the law, it won’t be considered valid and can’t override the old will. You can read the brief overview of the laws of Prob. §§6100 below: 

  • The testator must be 18 years of age or older.
  • The testator must be of sound mind.
  • Two witnesses must sign the will for its verification.

The laws above are the most basic requirements. Apart from these laws, the new will must state that the old will is no longer effective and provide detailed and specific information about who the designated beneficiary is.

Does A New Will Cancel An Old Will?

Yes, a new will can cancel the old one if it’s written correctly, has the witness’s signature, and states that the old will is no longer effective. There’s another important point, which is that the testator must be of sound mind. 

For example, if someone contested your new will on the basis that the testator was not of sound mind while writing will, the case will go in a different direction. The court will check the will’s validity with the deceased person’s medical history. 

If it’s proved that the deceased person (testator) was ill, on a deathbed, or under the influence of medicine, the new version of will not be considered authentic. However, if the testator has destroyed the old will through burning, shredding, etc, the new one will be considered valid. 

Can A Will Be Changed Without The Executor Knowing?

Yes, a will can be changed without the executor knowing but it’s advisable to keep them informed. It’s upon the testator (someone who creates the will) whether they want to change a specific part of the will or write a new will. 

Legal experts recommend informing the executor of any alterations in the will due to their responsibilities in the matter. Without knowledge of these changes, the executor may encounter difficulties filing the correct will in the probate court.

You should also share the location of where the will is stored so the executor can locate it and file for probate on time. Neglecting these steps may result in legal complications in the probate court. 

If A Will Is Not Registered, Is It Valid?

As per California law, notarization isn’t necessary for a will to be valid. Nortaziation doesn’t fulfill witness requirements; however, it can smooth the probate process. In many states, notarization of will eliminates the step of taking witnesses to court for validation. 

It’s a simple legal process in which the testator goes to a nearby notary office, presents documents like a new will and ID card, and signs them before an official. This step ensures that the will isn’t signed under anyone’s influence and is the last wish of the deceased person. 

Final Words 

Does a new will override an old will in Northern California? Yes, if the new will has been written properly and meets all requirements of laws, it can override the old will easily. Just remember, it’s important to write that the old will is invalid on the new will to prove its authenticity. 

Any testator who fails to meet the criteria won’t be considered valid. That’s why it’s best to consult a last will and testament attorney. They’ll guide you about the proper process and what you should do to revoke an old will. 

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Dustin MacFarlane’s primary focus is on Elder Law and protecting families and seniors. He is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law by the State Bar of California Board of Specialization — a rare distinction.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. MacFarlane worked in the Long Term Care industry. After becoming licensed to practice law in January of 2009, Elder Law quickly became his focus. Seeing the need during his former career, Mr. MacFarlane pursued Elder Law as a primary area of practice.

By Dustin MacFarlane

Dustin MacFarlane’s primary focus is on Elder Law and protecting families and seniors. He is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law by the State Bar of California Board of Specialization — a rare distinction.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. MacFarlane worked in the Long Term Care industry. After becoming licensed to practice law in January of 2009, Elder Law quickly became his focus. Seeing the need during his former career, Mr. MacFarlane pursued Elder Law as a primary area of practice.