A recent Tennessee Court of Appeals’
decision of In re Estate of Bill
Morris, No. M2014-00874-COA-R3-CV, 2015 WL 557970 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2015) discussed the requirements
for witness signatures on a Tennessee will.
T.C.A. § 32-1-104 has very specific
requirements for the execution of a will under Tennessee law. These requirements are as follows:
The execution of a will, other than a holographic or nuncupative will,
must be by the signature of the testator and of at least two (2) witnesses as
(1) The testator shall signify to the attesting witnesses that the
instrument is the testator's will and either:
(A) The testator sign;
(B) Acknowledge the testator's signature already made; or
(C) At the testator's direction and in the testator's presence have
someone else sign the testator's name; and
(D) In any of the above cases the act must be done in the presence of two
(2) or more attesting witnesses.
(2) The attesting witnesses must sign:
(A) In the presence of the testator; and
(B) In the presence of each other.
In the Morris case, the witnesses
signed an affidavit attached to the will that attested the will but they did
not actually sign on the will document.
The question, therefore, in this case was whether this will complied
with Tennessee law and was a valid will to be admitted for purposes of
establishing the decedent’s wishes.