In re Wolfe’s Will
185 N.C. 563, 117 S.E. 804 (1923)

  • Wolfe wrote a will. Two weeks later he wrote a second will. Then he died.
    • The second will may not have specified disposition of 100% of Wolfe’s property.
  • Someone who was a beneficiary under the first will but not the second challenged probate.
    • They argued that unless the second will specifically said that previous wills were invalid, then both wills should be considered valid
      • Unless they conflict.
    • The second will referred to “all my effects,” which could be argued made the first will invalid because it could not be consistent.
      • Or, it could be argued that “all my effects” referred only to personal effects, and that bequests in the first will of real property are not invalidated because such bequests are not inconsistent with the second will.
  • The North Carolina Supreme Court remanded for a new trial.
    • The North Carolina Supreme Court found that the second will does not explicitly include any phrase that invalidates the first will.
    • The Court further found that there is no reason why both wills could not stand. There was no reason to assume that the first will was invalid by implication.
      • You could infer that Wolfe means the second will to be a codicil to the first, and that he did not intend it to invalidate the first will.
    • The Court felt that it was a question of material fact whether or not the wording in the second will should be construed to revoke the first will by implication.
  • In general, under the Uniform Probate Code § 2-507, a new will can revoke all previous wills by a simple explicit statement. If there is no explicit statement, but a specific item is given in a previous will and the same item is given to a different heir in the new will, the new will trumps the old will.