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Who Has Standing to Contest a Will in Tennessee?

Posted on Aug 15 2015 10:49AM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

In Tennessee, a party who is going to contest a will must have proper “standing” to actually contest the will.  This basically means that the individual must have the authority under Tennessee Law to contest the will before they can do so.  If they do not have proper standing, then the Court will simply dismiss the case.  Tennessee Courts have provided guidance on who has standing to contest a will. 


The Tennessee Court of Appeals in Keasler v. Estate of Keasler, 973 S.W.2d 213 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997) found that “in order to have standing to contest a will, the contestant must show that he would take a share of the decedent's estate if the probated will were set aside.”  What this means is that if there is a prior will that has not been probated, and that will is being put forward as the actual “real will” then the person who is contesting the will must actually be able to recover something in the prior proposed will.  If they are not a beneficiary or even named in the prior will, they simply will not have standing to contest the will. 


In the alternative, if a person is contesting a will as fraudulent or subject to undue influence, but there is no other prior proposed will, then to have standing the person must show they are entitled to recover money under the intestacy laws of Tennessee.  The intestacy laws of descent apply to show who gets a persons property if there is no will.  It is not enough to be a good intentioned family member, friend or close loved one of the decedent.  In order to contest a will under Tennessee law you must actually have the legal right to do so. 


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TAGS: Will Contest, Tennessee Probate Law 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
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Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com