Does a later Will override previous Will?

My uncle and left a Will in which he left his house to my brother; my brother ha a copy of it. However, a year before that, there was another Will that left his house to his wife’s niece. So why my brother’s lawyer telling him to mediate with the niece because if he goes to court he has a chance to loose the house and it will cost him a lot off money and time. I don’t understand this person is not family. Who should the house goes to?

Asked on November 20, 2018 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Assuming that the later will was properly signed and witnessed, and was not the result of fraud or coercion, and the person making the will was mentally competent when he made it, the later will overrides the earlier one.
As for why the lawyer is recommending he negotiate and warning him that he could lose the home: perhaps the lawyer knows there is some reason the will could be successfully challenged, such as if the uncle may not have been mentally competent when he executed it, or something about the circumstances of its execution suggest that your brother may have used trickery, duress, or some other improper means to get the will made in his favor. If there might be grounds for a successful challenge, it may make sense to negotiate, rather than try to keep it all but possibly lose it all if the challenge is successful.


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