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Unsigned Wills

What happens when an unsigned will is found after the writer's death?

Key point: An unsigned copy of a will leaving an entire estate to a church may be admitted to probate if the original cannot be found and the church can overcome the presumption that the deceased revoked the will prior to death.

• What happens when a church member dies and an unsigned will is found leaving his entire estate to two churches? Do the churches have any right to the estate, or must it pass to surviving relatives? That was the issue addressed by an Iowa court in a recent case. A church member executed wills in 1959, 1973, 1974, 1983, and 1986. His final will, in 1986, left his entire estate to two churches with which he had been associated throughout his life. Following his death in 1990, the only will that could be found was an unsigned copy of the 1986 will in his safety deposit box. The church member was not survived by his wife, and he had no children. Various nephews ...

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Posted:
  • September 1, 1994

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