Serving Clients in Knox, Blount, Anderson, Loudon, Sevier & Roane Counties

Frequently Asked Questions: Wills

We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding wills and estate planning. Give us a call to set an appointment to get started!

  1. What happens if you die without a will in Tennessee?

If you die without a will in Tennessee, the state laws of descent and distribution will determine how your property will be conveyed.  The property will primarily be divided between your spouse and children if they survive you.  If not, then the law provides for distribution to your relatives including parents, siblings, nieces and nephews and grandparents.  If you have a valid will, then your wishes will supersede the statute and your property will be distributed as your will provides.

  1. What property does a will convey?

A will provides for the distribution of property owned by you at the time of your death and generally you can choose how to distribute your property, but there are a few exceptions.  If you are married and omit your spouse from your will, your spouse may be able to take an elective share of your estate as provided by statute in Tennessee.  Some property is not governed by your will.  Property that is determined by beneficiary designation or by title passes outside of your probate estate.  Some examples may be life insurance polices, retirement accounts and jointly titled real estate with the right of survivorship.

  1. How is a will properly executed in Tennessee?

T.C.A. 32-1-104 provides that that proper execution of will requires two witnesses and that the testator must signify that the document is the testator’s will and that the two witnesses must sign in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.  The witnesses may also sign an affidavit indicating the authenticity of the will.

  1. What is a living will?

In general, a living will is a written directive to your medical providers regarding medical care in the event you are in a permanent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.  In Tennessee, a statutory form has been approved wherein you can indicate if you would like medical care to be withdrawn with the exception of pain relief and that it is your wish to die naturally.  You may also indicate whether or not you would like artificial nutrition.  The form allows for organ donation to be selected if desired.   A living will must be signed by a competent adult and attested to by either a notary public or two witnesses.