Can physically tearing up a legal document invalidate or revoke its intention? When that legal document is your last Will & Testament: possibly yes! According to Connecticut General Statutes §45a-257, “a Will or Codicil shall not be revoked in any other manner except by burning, cancelling, tearing, or obliterating by the testator, or by some person in the testator’s presence, by the testator’s direction.” This means that if you physically rip up your Will or tell someone to do it for you while you watch, your will has been effectively revoked and will no longer hold weight as a legal document.
But can this apply to other kinds of documents? This is a question being asked by Nicole Young, estranged wife of music mogul Dr. Dre. The couple is going through a bitter divorce and Ms. Young has just filed documents claiming there was no prenuptial agreement. This is not because she did not sign one, but because she alleges Dr. Dre physically tore up the agreement as a “grand gesture” a few years after they married. If we applied the same law to Prenuptial Agreements as we do to Wills, it would stand to reason that Dr. Dre’s “grand gesture” has invalidated his Prenup with Ms. Young. Bad news for him: if this argument is accepted, Ms. Young might get half of Dr. Dre’s $800 million net worth. The court has yet to decide the result in Dr. Dre and Nicole Young’s case, but the lesson here is clear: if you one day hope to enforce a legal document: keep your hands to yourself!