Many times I have had a conversation where a client has asked me if it is possible to have two legal Wills at time of death. The purpose was to add a separate Will for one specific person or piece of property, without the beneficiaries of the other Will knowing what the other side is receiving or who is receiving it.
The simple answer is no, an individual cannot have two legal Wills. You should have one Last Will and Testament, through which you plan on distributing all of your probatable assets.
Of course, this is dealing with the legal system and there are always some ins and outs available to you. You can have a Will, which bequeaths some assets to certain people, while also having a Trust that gives different items of your property to other beneficiaries.
Also, if you are an international traveler with property in multiple countries and depending on your scenario, you probably need two Wills. One for your U.S. owned property and another for your International Property.
But, back to focusing on the majority of us with this two Will topic. If you pass away with more than one Will, and those Wills are different in any way, you open up your estate to a Will contest in Probate court. Think about this. Person A benefits greatly from Will 1, while person B does not. Person B benefits greatly from Will 2, while Person A does not. If you are person A, wouldn’t you want Will 1 to be the deceased person’s last legal intention? And vice versa for person B.
A contest defeats one of the preeminent purposes of creating an estate plan. They are much more time consuming than a typical informal Probate and can be very expensive. And unfortunately, the person you chose as Personal Representative will have to use your money to defend the validity of your Will, resulting in a smaller estate to give to your beneficiaries.
If you have minor children, a Will contest can prolong the time period between your passing and the Guardians of your choice having the authority to raise your children.
Suppose there are certain gifts that you would like to make, but do not want them to become public for whatever reason. An estate planning attorney can help you make that gift, without creating a second Will.
Schedule a conversation with Justin Jeppesen to take the first step towards creating your complete estate plan! With our Free Initial Consultation we help our clients explore their own situations and plan for their futures. If you have more questions, we'd love to help! Contact Jeppesen Law now. (208) 477-1785