Laws About Wills in Tennessee

By Samantha Kemp

To avoid the state deciding how and to whom to distribute your belongings at death, Tennessee residents can draft their own wills to determine who will receive their belongings. However, they must follow certain rules based on the type of will they create.

Requirements for All Wills

Tennessee law requires that the testator, the person making the will, be at least 18 years old and be of sound mind.

Holographic Wills

A holographic will is a handwritten will. Tennessee law requires that all material provisions in the will be in the testator's handwriting. Two witnesses have to go to court to verify the testator's signature. Alternatively, these individuals can complete a notarized statement and submit it to court so that they do not have to go personally.

While the testator does not have to sign the will, he must write his name somewhere on the document.

Noncupative Wills

This type of will is basically a deathbed will. It is for people who are in imminent peril of death. The will is only valid if the testator actually dies from the threatened cause of death. The idea is not to require formalities when time is limited.

For the will to be valid, the testator must declare it to be his will in front of two disinterested witnesses, meaning that they don't stand to inherit from the will. One of the witnesses must make a print copy of the will within 30 days of its creation. It must then be submitted to the probate court within six months of the testator's death. This type of will can only dispose of personal property of $1,000 or less of aggregate value, or $10,000 if the testator is in the active military in time of war.

Attested Wills

Wills that are not holographic or noncupative must be witnessed. Tennessee law requires that there be at least two witnesses. If one of the witnesses is interested,, there must be at least two other disinterested witnesses. Otherwise, the interested witness will only receive the portion of the estate that she would have been entitled to under rules of intestacy, as if there was no will.

The testator says or indicates that the document in front of the witnesses is his will. He then either signs the will, directs someone else to sign for him or acknowledges the signature that is already on the will as his own.

The witnesses must sign in front of each other and the testator. One of the witnesses may have to go to probate court to confirm the signatures. However, the witnesses can complete a notarized statement confirming the signatures and execution of the will.

About the Author

Samantha Kemp is a lawyer for a general practice firm. She has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles focus on legal issues, personal finance, business and education. Kemp acquired her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She also has degrees in economics and business and teaching.