What is a Nuncupative Will in Tennessee?

Posted on Nov 25 2013 10:07AM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

A nuncupative will is a will that is completed by a person who is in imminent peril of death from illness or otherwise.  The will is only valid if the testator actually died as a result of the impending peril.  T.C.A. § 32-1-106 provides in this entirety as follows:


(a) A nuncupative will may be made only by a person in imminent peril of death, whether from illness or otherwise, and shall be valid only if the testator died as a result of the impending peril, and must be:

(1) Declared to be the testator's will by the testator before two (2) disinterested witnesses;

(2) Reduced to writing by or under the direction of one (1) of the witnesses within thirty (30) days after such declaration; and

(3) Submitted for probate within six (6) months after the death of the testator.

(b) The nuncupative will may dispose of personal property only and to an aggregate value not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), except that in the case of persons in active military, air or naval service in time of war the aggregate amount may be ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

(c) A nuncupative will neither revokes nor changes an existing written will.


This type of will is very limited and has very specific requirements that are restrictive.  The nuncupative will must be made by the testator in front of two disinterested witnesses.  Additionally, it must be reduced to writing by or under the direction of one of the disinterested witnesses within thirty days of the declaration.  It must also be submitted to probate within six months after the death of the testator. 


Additionally, T.C.A. § 32-1-106(b) provides specific limits on the value of what can be bequeathed under a nuncupative will.  The will may only dispose of personal property and the value of the personal property cannot exceed $1,000.00.  However, if the deceased is in the active military in a time of war, then the total value of the personal property disposed of in a nuncupative will can be up to $10,000.00.


Finally, T.C.A. § 32-1-106(c) makes it clear that a nuncupative will does not revoke or change any existing written will.  As a result, a nuncupative will can only be used in very specific limited circumstances under Tennessee law.


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TAGS: Nuncupative Will, Wills
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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
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Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com