What Is A Will?

A Will is a legal document that instructs what you want done with your property after your death.  Any person who is of sound mind and is at least eighteen (18) years of age may make a Will in Tennessee.  A Will must be properly signed and properly witnessed to be valid.

What Should You Include In Your Will?

In general, your Will should:

  1. specify how and to whom you want your property to be distributed.  Include items such as real estate (except that which is owned jointly with someone who has a right of survivorship), bank accounts and savings bonds (unless a specific beneficiary is named on the account), and other personal items; 

  2. nominate a guardian for your minor or incompetent child(ren);

  3. appoint someone to act as the Personal Representative to carry out your wishes and fulfill the obligations and duties imposed by law.

What Happens If You Do Not Have A Will?

If you die without a valid Will, the laws of Tennessee will determine how your property will be distributed:

If you are married and have no children at your death, your entire estate will pass to your surviving spouse.

If you are married and have children, your estate will pass to your children and your surviving spouse.

If you are not married but have children, your entire estate will pass to your children.

If you are not married and have no children, your estate will pass to your surviving parent(s). If your parents do not survive you, your estate will pass to your siblings or to your deceased sibling's next of kin.

If you die leaving no relatives, your estate will pass to the State of Tennessee, where it is held as unclaimed property.

Where Should I Keep My Will Once It Is Made?

Once your Will has been prepared, properly signed and witnessed, it should be kept in a place where it is not likely to be lost or destroyed.  Some options are:

  1. a bank safe deposit box;

  2. a home safe;

  3. the local probate court clerk's office; or

  4. attorney's office

If you die and no one is able to locate your Will, the law presumes that the Will was intentionally destroyed by you for the purpose of revoking the Will. As such, it is vitally important that your Personal Representative and/or other persons that you trust are able to locate the Will upon your death.

How Do I Revoke Or Change My Will?

You may revoke your Will at any time prior to your death by:

  1. signing another Will;

  2. physically destroying the Will; or

  3. signing a document which states that you wish to revoke your Will. Also, if, after signing your Will, you get divorced, your Will is automatically revoked as to any provisions relating to your ex-spouse. If you marry and have children after signing your Will, your entire Will is revoked. In each of these circumstances, you will need to make a new Will.



  • Durable Power of Attorney - A Power of Attorney is a written legal document in which you grant another individual the authority to make decisions on your behalf and to handle your personal and/or business affairs.

  • Living Will - A Living Will is a written legal document which declares your thoughtful decision to refuse life-prolonging medical procedures or withhold or withdraw medical care. A Living Will takes effect if you develop a terminal condition and are unable to otherwise communicate your wishes.

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare - A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare is a written legal document wherein you grant another individual the authority to make healthcare decisions for you should you become unable to do so. This document generally covers a broader range of healthcare decisions beyond the refusal of life-prolonging medical procedures.  


     DISCLAIMER:  The preceding information is provided by the Law Office of Kevin E. Childress as a courtesy to our     

     website visitors and clients. However, the information is not intended as legal advice nor it is a substitute for

     consultation with a probate attorney so as to ensure compliance with applicable State laws and to avoid serious tax


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