When Paul P.K. Huang died on August 19, 2004 as a resident of Manhattan, no fewer than eight wills surfaced! On motion of the petitioner, seven of these wills were denied probate even though all of them were dated subsequent to the will offered for probate which was dated October 7, 1998.

In the Matter of the Estate of Paul K.P. Huang, Deceased, 811 N.Y.S. 2d 885, Surrogate Eve Preminger ruled that the first six of those instruments could not be admitted because none were attested to. The seventh will was dated April 29,2004 but only a photocopy could be produced. This will was duly executed under the supervision of an attorney and properly attested to by witnesses. The problem with this will was that the supervising attorney averred that the original will had been kept by the decedent, himself in his home. Since the original was nowhere to be found, the court ruled the photocopy to be inadmissible based upon the strong presumption that the will could not be found by reason of the decedent revoking it by destruction.

Here our fact pattern gets strange, indeed. Surrogate Preminger goes on to cite EPTL 3-4.6(a) which provides that “If after executing a will, a testator executes a later will which revokes or alters the prior one, a revocation of the later will does not, of itself, revive the prior will or any provision thereof”. Keep in mind that the April 29,2004 will was ruled to be duly executed and in full force and effect at the time it was made. That will, by its own terms revoked all prior wills. It was then revoked itself by reason of the fact that the decedant was presumed to have intentionally destroyed it. Even though the decedent had failed to destroy the prior will duly executed on October 7, 1998, the court was constrained to rule that this will had been effectively revoked by the April,2004 will and that the subsequent revocation of that will failed to revive the earlier one. As a result, it was determined that Mr. Huang died intestate!