Suppose I die and, on the day before, I have signed two wills with conflicting terms.

If, for some reason, it is not possible to determine which of these was signed first, which terms will prevail? How is this decided?


In most places I imagine the issue would go before a probate judge who would attempt to determine the validity of each presented will, and if both were valid, then they would attempt to reconcile the disparities to the best of their ability.

Broadly speaking, the process would look like this (I'm using UK law as an example):

  1. You die
  2. An individual is chosen to handle your affairs (executor or administrator [or possibly both depending on jurisdiction])
  3. They choose a will to go off of (these steps could be reversed if the wills named different administrators, in which case each administrator would file for the grant of representation and consequently involve the probate judge earlier)
  4. Someone challenges and suggests using the other will (probably because they feel they're not getting what's theirs)
  5. A probate judge is involved
  6. The probate judge decides
  7. Appeals would be made to Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court

That being said, every jurisdiction is different, and this is more of a template answer for English common law (and derivative courts), than an attempt to describe in detail any specific jurisdiction's procedures.

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