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What is the Statute of Limitations for a Tennessee Probate Estate to be Opened to Prosecute a Claim Against the United States Government?

Posted on May 19 2014 9:37PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Tennessee has a specific statute that provides there is no statute of limitations for opening up an estate in Tennessee in order to prosecute a claim against the United States Government.  Specifically, T.C.A. § 30-1-110(3) provides as follows:


The time within which administration may be granted shall be as follows:

(3) Prosecuting Claims against Government. A special administration may be granted for the purpose of prosecuting any claim against the government of the United States, without any limitation of time.


As a result, if an estate needs to be opened in Tennessee for the purpose of prosecuting a claim against the United States Government, this can be done at any time after the decedent’s death.  Obviously, there may still be an underlying statute of limitations for the claim against the United States Government, but there is no limitation of time for the actual opening of the estate under Tennessee law.  An example of a claim that has been brought against the United States Government to which this statute would apply would be the “Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation”.  In order to get a paid out settlement in the Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation case in Tennessee (or elsewhere) for a deceased person, an estate must be opened up in Tennessee.


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TAGS: Statute of Limitations, Tennessee Probate Law Comments [0]

Do Tennessee Courts Recognize Handwritten Wills?

Posted on May 11 2014 10:28PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

The short answer to this questions is simply yes, you can have a handwritten Will in Tennessee.  That is as long as it complies with the requirements for a holographic Will under Tennessee law.  The requirements for a holographic Will are found in T.C.A. § 32-1-105 which states,


No witness to a holographic will is necessary, but the signature and all its material provisions must be in the handwriting of the testator and the testator's handwriting must be proved by two (2) witnesses.


Therefore, if someone is going to have a handwritten Will in Tennessee, the important or “material” provisions in the Will must be entirely in the testator’s handwriting.  Additionally, the individual who made the Will must actually sign the Will.  Ultimately, the handwriting of the person who made the Will must be proved in Court by two witnesses.  If all these requirements are met, then a handwritten Will can be deemed valid in Tennessee.


Now I need to get on my soapbox.  Just because you can do your own handwritten will does not mean that this should be done.  I do not recommend that anyone prepare their own handwritten Will.  There are simply too many mistakes that can happen in this process.  There are many unintended consequences when people try to “save money” and do their own handwritten Will.  Tennessee law is filled with examples of significant mistakes that were unintentionally made by people who try to draft their own wills.  Unfortunately, at the point these mistakes are discovered, it is too late to correct the mistakes.  As a result, I recommend that everybody in Tennessee should have a Will done by a competent Tennessee Wills attorney.  It is not that...

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TAGS: Holographic Will, Wills, Will Contest Comments [0]

In Tennessee How Does Someone get Access to a Safety Deposit Box After a Person Dies to See if they had a Will?

Posted on May 6 2014 9:49PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

A question that is often asked is how someone can get access to a safety deposit box of a person who died in Tennessee.  Another important question is who is entitled to this access in this circumstance.  This usually comes up when family members are trying to locate a will or determine if there are any valuables in a safety deposit box.  Thankfully, we have a statute in Tennessee that addresses this specific issue and the protocol to obtain access to the safety deposit box.


T.C.A. § 45-2-905 is the statute that addresses this issue but it has several other provisions related to safety deposit boxes.  The key portion for our purpose is found in subsection (c) as follows:


(c) Upon the death of the sole or last surviving lessee of a safe deposit box, access is authorized as follows:

(1) The duly qualified executor or administrator of the lessee may have access to and remove contents from the safe deposit box, without inventory unless an inventory is required by the lessor or by court order;

(2) In order to search for and remove any written instrument purporting to be the lessee's last will and testament, or any writing relating to a burial plot or burial instructions, or any writing purporting to be an insurance policy on the life of the lessee, a lessor shall permit a person named in a court order for that purpose, or if no order has been served upon the lessor, the lessee's spouse, parent, adult sibling or adult descendant, or a person named as executor in a copy of the lessee's purported will provided to the lessor, or any person with a right of access to the safe deposit box immediately prior to the death of the lessee, to open the safe deposit box with an officer or employee of the lessor and remove the documents. A record of items removed from the box by the person authorized entry shall be made by the lessor and the other person. If a purported will is found that does not name as executor the person conducting the will search with the lessor's representative, the lessor may make a copy thereof and mail or deliver it to the executor named therein, or to the court having jurisdiction of the decedent's estate according to the decedent's domicile as declared...

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TAGS: Wills, Probate Assets Comments [0]

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