Probate Laws in Tennessee

By Amy Kingston

Tennessee state contour against blurred USA flag image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com

Probate is the transfer of the property of a deceased person to the beneficiaries named in a will. If a will exists, the probate courts determine its validity. Debts owed by the deceased person are paid from the estate and the remainder is distributed according to the terms of the will. In Tennessee, the probate court also presides over guardianships, name changes, emancipations and legitimations.

Estate Law

In the state of Tennessee, if a person dies without a will, the courts will determine how his property is to be distributed. If the deceased was married and did not have children, the estate becomes the sole property of the surviving spouse. If a person is married and has children, the estate becomes the property of the surviving spouse and children. Surviving children will inherit the estate if a person is unmarried. Surviving parents inherit the estate of an unmarried person who does not have children. In the event that the deceased was preceded in death by both parents, surviving siblings will inherit the estate. If there are no surviving relatives, the estate will become the property of the state of Tennessee.


A will states how property is to be distributed to the deceased person's beneficiaries. An executor oversees the estate and ensures that the terms of the will are carried out. It should include provisions for the care and guardianship of minor children. Persons over the age of 18 of sound mind can make a will in the state of Tennessee. It must be signed in front of a witness. Handwritten wills are legal in the state of Tennessee, but two individuals must verify the authenticity of your handwriting. However, handwritten wills can be revoked and the estate will be divided according to the estate laws.

Revoking a Will

In the state of Tennessee, you can revoke your own will before your death by destroying it, signing a document stating that you wish to revoke your will or making and signing a new will. If a person with a will divorces her spouse, any provisions related to the ex-spouse are automatically revoked. If you marry and have children after you have made a will, the will becomes null and void and a new will must be drawn.

Contesting a Will

A will can be contested in probate court. An attorney licensed in the state of Tennessee can represent a person appearing before the court to object to the terms of a will. A judge will rule on the case and determine the validity of the claim against the will and decide how it will affect the distribution of the estate.

About the Author

Amy Kingston has been a professional writer since 2001. She has written articles for various publications, including "Health" magazine, "Jackson Parenting" magazine, the "Bolivar Bulletin" newspaper and "A Musician's Pursuit." Kingston was also published in "Voices of Bipolar Disorder."

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