There are two general ways to revoke a valid will under Arizona law:
- Perform a revocatory act with the purpose of revoking all or part of the will
- Create a new will that expressly states it revokes the prior will or contradicts the prior will.
Revoke a Will Under Arizona Law By Performing a Revocatory Act With Intent to Revoke
One way to revoke a will under Arizona law is by performing a revocatory act coupled with the intent to revoke the will. Section 14-2507, Arizona Statutes, defines a revocatory act for the purpose of revoking a will and states:
For the purposes of this paragraph, “revocatory act on the will” includes burning, tearing, canceling, obliterating, rendering unreadable or destroying the will or any part of it. A burning, tearing or canceling is a revocatory act on the will whether or not the burn, tear or cancellation touched any of the words on the will.
Critically, the “revocatory act” must be coupled with an intent to revoke the will by performance of the revocatory act. Using this method to revoke your will under Arizona law leaves open to question whether the testator actually had the intent to revoke the will. Said another way, using this method to revoke your will can open the door to probate litigation.
Revoke a Will Under Arizona Law By Creating a New Will
The most commonly used method to revoke a will under Arizona law is simply by creating a new will. A new will operates to revoke a prior will when it “revokes the previous will or part expressly or by inconsistency.” Section 14-2507, Arizona Statutes.
Most wills contain a clause in the will that states that all prior wills are revoked. If you do want to revoke your will, creating a new one is the cleanest and most straightforward way to clearly revoke a prior will under Arizona law.
Can a Will Be Partially Revoked?
Yes, a will can be partially revoked under Arizona law. As discussed above, a new will or codicil can state that the prior will is revoked in part.
Arizona law will also operate to revoke certain provisions of a will in the event of a divorce or annulment. Under Arizona Revised Statute section 14-2804, if you get divorced or if your marriage is annulled, any gift to your spouse or appointment of your spouse or one of their relatives in a fiduciary position such as trustee or personal representative will be automatically revoked unless your will expressly states to the contrary.
Is a Prior Will Revived If a Subsequent Will Is Revoked?
A prior will can be revived if a subsequent will is revoked, but revival is not automatic under Arizona law.
A previous will is revived if it is evident from the circumstances of the revocation of the subsequent will or from the testator’s contemporary or subsequent declarations that the testator intended the previous will to take effect as executed. Arizona Revised Statute section 14-2509.
If a testator revokes a subsequent will that partly revoked a previous will, the revoked part of the previous will is revived unless it is evident from the circumstances of the revocation of the subsequent will or from the testator’s contemporary or subsequent declarations that the testator did not intend the revoked part to take effect as executed.
If a testator revokes a subsequent will that revoked a previous will in whole or in part by another later will, the previous will remains revoked in whole or in part, unless the testator revives it or its revoked part. The previous will or its revoked part is revived to the extent it appears from the terms of the later will that the testator intended the previous will to take effect.
The takeaway: If you want to revoke a will, simply make a subsequent will that revokes the prior will. If you want to revive parts of a prior will, the easiest way to do it is to simply make another will setting forth your wishes, as opposed to revoking your subsequent will and reviving a prior one.