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How do I revive a revoked will?

It is not uncommon during the life a testator that he or she will come to reconsider all or part of his or her will, and seek to revoke it. Will revocation in Minnesota requires compliance with specific statutory procedures, and as long as these are adhered to then the law will presume that the testator meant to revoke and replace the old will with a new one, instead of merely supplementing the existing will.

But what happens if circumstances change yet again? That is, let us assume that the testator prepared a new will, and intended thereby to revoke an older existing will, but for some reason comes to reconsider later on and decides that he or she liked the old will better. What is necessary to restore the old will to effective status?

How an old will can be restored (or "revived" as the law puts it) depends at least in part on whether the newer will was meant to replace all or only a part of the old will:

  • If the new will was written only to replace part of the old will, then revoking the new will has the effect of restoring the revoked provision of the older will unless through the circumstances of the revocation of the newer provision the testator makes it clear that the old provision remains revoked as well.
  • On the other hand, if the new will was meant to completely replace the old will, and the old will was indeed revoked, then simply revoking the new will will not suffice to revive the old one. Both wills are considered to be revoked in this case unless the testator makes it clear that he or she intends to revive the old will. This can be accomplished by showing through contemporaneous circumstances or declarations of the testator that he or she in fact intends to revive the old will.

Will revocation and revival can be a complicated process. This post only provides an overview of how that process works, and should not be taken as legal advice or a comprehensive treatment of the subject. To learn how to effectively revoke a will or to revive one, it is advisable to consult with an attorney experienced with probate and estate administration practice.

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Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates

Jeffrey P. Scott & Associates LLC
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