Dependent Relative Revocation: Presumption or Probability?

27 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2014 Last revised: 3 Jul 2014

See all articles by Richard F. Storrow

Richard F. Storrow

City University of New York School of Law

Date Written: June 24, 2014


A primary goal of the law of wills is to carry out the testator’s intent. However, when a testator dies leaving a succession of wills or having expressed to an attorney his or her plan to execute a new will, ascertaining the testator’s intent can be difficult. The problem is especially challenging when a court attempts to square the testator’s intent with the principle of law that disallows correcting mistakes in wills. This Article explores how courts have used the doctrine of dependent relative revocation to determine which testamentary scheme should be admitted to probate. The application of this doctrine has unfortunately become untidy and unpredictable, due in part to the failure of courts to position their use of dependent relative revocation within the traditional framework of will interpretation. This Article explains the advantages of adopting a two-step interpretative process for applying the doctrine.

Keywords: dependent relative revocation, wills, interpretation, revocation, revival, mistake, conditionality, ambiguity

Suggested Citation

Storrow, Richard F., Dependent Relative Revocation: Presumption or Probability? (June 24, 2014). Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Journal, Vol. 48, No. 3, 2014, Available at SSRN:

Richard F. Storrow (Contact Author)

City University of New York School of Law ( email )

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