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Living Wills Under Tennessee Law Are Very Important

Posted on Mar 11 2018 1:56PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Tennessee law provides the authority to execute a "Living Will" according to the "Tennessee Right to Natural Death Act" which has been law since the mid-1980’s.  A Living Will allows you to make decisions related to end of life issues like the decision to not be kept alive by artificial means if you have a terminal condition and there is no expectation of recovery.   T.C.A. § 32-11-102 provides the legislative intent for a “Living Will” as follows:


(a) The general assembly declares it to be the law of the state of Tennessee that every person has the fundamental and inherent right to die naturally with as much dignity as circumstances permit and to accept, refuse, withdraw from, or otherwise control decisions relating to the rendering of the person's own medical care, specifically including palliative care and the use of extraordinary procedures and treatment. The general assembly further declares that it is in the public interest to facilitate recovery of organs and/or tissues for transplantation and to provide mechanisms for individuals to express their desire to donate their organs and/or tissues.

(b) The general assembly does further empower the exercise of this right by written declaration, called a “living will,” as provided in this chapter.


T.C.A. § 32-11-105 provides a specific form for a Living Will in Tennessee.  This statute provides a form that is acceptable under Tennessee law for a Living Will and many individuals in Tennessee have executed this document to remove these decisions from their loved ones. Decisions about letting a person die naturally can be some of the hardest decisions a family member will ever need to make about a loved one.  But this decision is also very important.


T.C.A. § 32-11-104 also provides specific requirements for the execution of a living will.  An executed living will can be signed by "any competent adult person" according to T.C.A. § 32-11-104.  The declaration must be in writing and signed by the principal and is valid if it is attested by a notary public with no witnesses or by two witnesses without an attestation of a notary public.  If the witness method is used then at least one of the witnesses must not be related to the individual exec...

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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