Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Arizona

Irrevocable will vs account Ownership

My uncle drew up an unrevocable will years ago and recently wanted to change it, however he could not. He wants to leave his only living sister his money, so he has put her on a joint account with him. If he should die, the money in the account would be in my mothers name. Could the people in the will (whom my uncle has not seen or heard from in 20 years) contest this, or does account ownership override a irrivocable will? The will was made in Arizona State, he is now a Washington State resident.

Asked on 9/14/07, 3:59 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

Brian Blum Blum Law Office, PLC

Re: Irrevocable will vs account Ownership

Generally, there is no such thing as an irrevocable will. There is however, something known as a contract to make a will, or a contract not to revoke a will. This is probably what your uncle has done. (Although I would have to see the documents to know for sure. He also may have an Irrevocable Trust, which is something else entirely.)

Arizona's statute regarding will contracts is only about 12 years old. If your uncle made a contract regarding a will before that, then the contract might not be enforceable.

The only way you can get a meaningful answer to these questions, however, is for your uncle to have an Arizona attorney review all of the documents.

As for whether the beneficiaries can contest the will: I don't know. It depends what the documents say. See a lawyer.

Good luck.

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Answered on 9/14/07, 4:56 pm

Elizabeth Powell ELizabeth Powell PS Inc

Re: Irrevocable will vs account Ownership

Are you sure it was not a revokable living trust?

The answer turns on where your uncle lives. If this is an AZ question, perhaps - I don't know.

In WA, I'd have to see the documents to give you an opinion.

However, bank accounts are generally not considered probate assets in WA; they pass to the survivor without going through probate.

Elizabeth Powell

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Answered on 9/14/07, 10:15 pm
James Jenkins Jenkins Law Center PLC

Re: Irrevocable will vs account Ownership

To be safe, an estate attorney would have to review the documents and make plans which would accomplish the testator's desires in a fashion where a contest would not likely prevail. See an estate attorney. In Washington, see Elizabeth Powell. Her answer seemed knowledgeable. In Arizona, we offer free initial consultations.

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Answered on 9/18/07, 1:42 pm
Donald Scher Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C.

Re: Irrevocable will vs account Ownership

The previous answer regarding an "irrevocable will" is correct, that there is no such thing unless there was a contract or a will made in contemplation of another person making a will in reliance upon the first will be done a certain way.

Anyone can execute a subsequent will and the last valid will is the one that counts.

If an account is titled in joint tenancy with another or made payable on death to another, that account will be owned by the surviving joint tenant or the person designated in the pay on death provision, all be operation of law, and the will has no effect on such an account, and the account would not be included in the decedent's estate.

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Answered on 9/15/07, 3:32 pm

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