In Tennessee, if you are at least eighteen and of sound mind, you can create
a will as long as you create the will in accordance with state law. In
order for a will to be authenticated, it must be proven to the court that
it was created per the state’s criteria. The strict requirements
imposed by the courts protect estates against fraudulent transfers of
property by invalid wills.
The process of authenticating a will is referred to as
“probate.” The person who writes a will is called the “testator.” To
will (to prove it), someone must come forward and produce the will to the probate
court. From there, either a judge or a clerk and master shall examine
the case, and either grant or deny the application for letters of testamentary.
Who Can Present a Will?
Any interested party can take the will and show it to the probate court.
Usually, such a person is a close relative of the deceased. If there is
more than one will, each will should be presented to the court. If someone
destroys or conceals a will with the corrupt intention of defrauding or
preventing probate, they commit a felony (T.C.A. 32-14-131, 40-35-111)
and are subject to fines and imprisonment.
Proving a will is not complicated. Usually, an interested person shows
the will to the judge or the clerk and master, and a motion is filed to
admit the will to probate. The judge or clerk and master will decide if
the will is valid. If the will cannot be proved, probate will be denied.
If the will is validated, the will is said to be
proved.The will is admitted to probate and letters testamentary can be applied
for or granted. At this point, the executor
administers the estate.
What the judge looks for when “proving” a will:
- The testator’s signature on the will document.
- The signatures of at least two witnesses.
- All witnesses who signed the will should be found so they can testify.
If the witnesses cannot be found, they must be searched for to determine
- The two witnesses who signed the will may need to sign an affidavit.
- If direct evidence about the execution of the will is inaccessible, it
will be necessary to obtain secondary proof.
Do I Need a Probate Attorney?
This is a basic summary of admitting a will to probate in Tennessee. For
professional, legal assistance with a probate case,
contact my firm today. As a Nashville probate lawyer, I can assist you with all of your probate and
estate planning needs.