In Tennessee can the court modify a will to achieve tax objectives that are beneficial to the deceased testator's estate?

Posted on Apr 8 2013 12:41PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

A recent Tennessee law that went into effect on July 1, 2010, allows the court to modify the terms of a will to accomplish tax objectives that benefit the deceased testator's estate (the estate of the person who made the will).  The will can be modified in order to accomplish these tax objectives as long as the changes are not contrary to the testator’s “probable” intention.  T.C.A. § 32-3-114 provides as follows:


To achieve the testator's tax objectives, the court may modify the terms of a will in a manner that is not contrary to the testator's probable intention. The court may provide that the modification has retroactive effect.


This is an important recent change to Tennessee law that could be of great benefit to Tennessee estates under certain circumstances.  If minor changes to the will could allow there to be tax benefits for the estate, then the changes can be made by the court even though the will did not specifically include the tax benefits.  In order to accomplish this, counsel for the estate should file a motion requesting the modification of the will and demonstrating how it complied with the Testator’s intent. 

This statute could save Tennessee estates a significant amount of money in certain circumstances.  This is why it is important to have a Tennessee probate attorney review and handle the probate of an estate in Tennessee in order to determine if this statute (and others) could apply to reduce the tax liability of the estate.

TAGS: Probate Process, Tennessee Inheritance Tax, Taxes, Wills, Probate Assets, Tennessee Probate Law
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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. Contact Jason at 615-540-1004 or jlee@burrowlee.com for an initial consultation on wills estate planning and probate issues.

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Tennessee Wills and Estates Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
611 Commerce Street, Suite 2603
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com