There are two main ways to revoke a will recognized under Oklahoma law:
- By a written will or other writing of the testator; or,
- By being burnt, torn, canceled, obliterated or destroyed.
Revoke an Oklahoma Will By Making Another Will Or Other Writing
The first way that an Oklahoma testator can revoke a will is by making another will or executing an “other writing.” Section 84-101(1) Oklahoma Statutes, provides that a will can be revoked:
By a written will or other writing of the testator, declaring such revocation or alteration, and executed with the same formalities with which a will should be executed by such testator;
The most common method a testator uses to revoke an Oklahoma will is by simply making a new will. The subsequent will must declare that the will revokes all prior wills made by the testator. 84 OK Stat § 84-105 (2019) expressly provides that:
A prior will is not revoked by a subsequent will, unless the latter contains an express revocation, or provisions wholly inconsistent with the terms of the former will; but in other cases the prior will remains effectual so far as consistent with the provisions of the subsequent will.
Making a new will to revoke a prior will is the most obvious and direct way to let interested persons know that a testator’s last wishes have changed.
A testator may also make an “other writing” to revoke a will under Oklahoma law. The other writing must declare the revocation or alteration of the prior will, and must be executed with the same formalities required to make a valid will in Oklahoma.
Revoke an Oklahoma Will By Destruction
The second way that a testator can revoke an Oklahoma will is by a destructive act or destruction of the will. Section 84-101(2), Oklahoma Statutes, provides that a will can be revoked:
By being burnt, torn, canceled, obliterated or destroyed, with intent and for the purpose of revoking the same, by the testator himself, or by some person in his presence and by his direction.
Although this method might seem like the quickest way to revoke a will, it can cause problems. Revocation by destruction must be coupled with the intent to destroy the will. If an issue arises as to whether the testator intended to destroy the will, this method of revocation can lead to litigation.
In addition, “when a will is canceled or destroyed by any other person than the testator, the direction of the testator, and the fact of such injury or destruction, must be proved by two witnesses.” See 84 OK Stat § 84-102 (2019).
How Do You Revoke an Oklahoma Will By Cancellation or Destruction?
The Oklahoma statute governing revocation says that a will can be “burnt, torn, canceled, obliterated or destroyed…” Some of these methods are fairly self-explanatory, such as burning or tearing. Although there are no hard and fast rules, some ways that a will can be “canceled, obliterated or destroyed” include:
- Writing canceled over every page of the will;
- Crossing out the terms of the will;
- Shredding the will;
- Throwing the will away.
Oklahoma law provides that a revocation by obliteration on the face of the will may be partial or total, and is complete if the material part is so obliterated as to show an intention to revoke; but where, in order to effect a new disposition the testator attempts to revoke a provision of the will by altering or obliterating it on the face thereof, such revocation is not valid unless the new disposition is legally effected. See 84 OK Stat § 84-103 (2019).
Can a Revoked Will Be Revived?
Yes. Under Oklahoma law a will that has been revoked can be revived, but under limited circumstances. 84 OK Stat § 84-106 (2019) provides that:
If, after making a will, the testator duly makes and executes a subsequent will, the destruction, canceling or revocation of the latter does not revive the former, unless it appears by the terms of such revocation that it was his intention to renew the former will, or unless after such destruction, canceling or revocation, he republishes the prior will.
If you want to revoke your Oklahoma will, consult with an Oklahoma probate lawyer to make sure that the revocation is effective.