A will is a legal document detailing how an individual -- the testator -- wants his or her property and affairs handled after death. States regulate the requirements of the testator, what constitutes a valid will, and the enforcement of wills; but for the most part, state will laws are very similar to one another. The will differs from the "living will" in that the latter is a legally binding document listing one's end-of-life health care preferences.
Without a will, your estate goes through the probate process, which tends to take a lot longer to resolve. Generally, it's best to have a valid will in place before you die. See Wills: An Overview to learn more. Tennessee law requires testators to be 18 and of sound mind, while two or more witnesses must sign the will to make it valid. The state also accepts nuncupative (oral) wills under certain conditions, and holographic (handwritten) wills also are valid.
|32-1-102, et seq.
|Age of Testator
|18 years or older and of sound mind
|Number of Witnesses
|Two or more attesting witnesses must sign in presence of testator and each other after testator signifies to the attesting witnesses that the instrument is his will and he signs or acknowledges his signature, or at his direction and in his presence have someone else sign his name.
|Nuncupative (Oral Wills)
|Must be made only by person in imminent peril of death and valid only if testator dies as result of peril; must be declared to be his will before two disinterested witnesses, reduced to writing by or under direction of one of the witnesses within 30 days and submitted to probate within 6 months after death of testator; only valid for personal property not exceeding $1000 unless person is in active military, air, or naval service in time of war, then $10,000; neither revokes nor changes existing written will.
|Signature and material provisions must be in handwriting of testator and handwriting must be proved by two witnesses (no witnesses necessary to the will).
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Tennessee wills attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Tennessee Wills Law: Related Resources