How to Write a Will in Tennessee

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Handwritten wills, or holographic wills, are better than having no will at all in the state of Tennessee, but it is not recommended. In the event the will is handwritten, any writing by any other person would invalidate the will. When a will is considered legally invalid, Tennessee then decides how to distribute the estate regardless of the decedent’s wishes. In addition, holographic wills require a longer probate process as witnesses would need to be called in to give testimony that the signature was the deceased. As such, the state of Tennessee recommends typing the will with signatures from both the author, or the testator, and the two witnesses.

Type “The Last Will and Testament of.” Insert the testator’s name and the city, county, and state in which the testator resides.

Appoint, in writing, a trusted individual to be the executor of the estate. Include an alternate choice.

Decide who will be the guardian to any surviving children under the age of 18. Include at least one additional option in case the first choice is unavailable or unwilling.

Choose who will receive personal items. Tennessee passes personal effects to surviving relatives, starting with a surviving spouse, unless otherwise indicated.

Detail how debts, businesses, taxes, trusts, and real estate are to be handled.

Provide any funeral or burial wishes. Appoint a family member(s) to make these decisions and arrangements.

List a statement declaring that the witnesses attest to the validity of the will.

Choose two witnesses that will not receive anything from the will. Tennessee allows beneficiaries to act as witnesses; however, in some events the state revokes gifts bequeathed to a witness.

Sign the will in the presence of the witnesses and then ask them to sign. While not required, it is recommended the signatures are notarized thereby making the will ‘self-proving’ and minimizing the probate process.


About the Author

Heather Woodlief started writing professionally in 1998. Her published works have been featured in "Family Fun" magazine, "Fit Pregnancy," "Cat's Magazine," "Children's Ministry" magazine and "iParenting."

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