When your loved one died, you may have expected to receive an inheritance. Perhaps you were surprised when you learned that you would not receive what you were told you would get. Perhaps you were surprised to learn that substantial assets were removed from the estate by way of alleged gifts. You may wonder what your rights are and whether you can contest the will or challenge the validity of certain provisions or distributions.

Whether you can file an objection to the will with a Tennessee court depends on the particular circumstances of your case. The law only allows a legally interested party to file a will contest or seek to recover property for specific reasons.

For what reasons could you file a will contest?

The law does not allow you to object to the will simply because you will not receive the inheritance you thought you would get or you thought you deserved. Instead, you would need to show that one of the following set of circumstances exists:

  • If you can prove that your loved one did not have sufficient mental capability of understanding what he or she was signing, determining who should inherit property logically and the nature of his or her estate, then the court could invalidate the will due to a lack of capacity. 
  • If you can prove that your loved one failed to execute the will in accordance with state law, then the court could invalidate it. For instance, if the law requires two witnesses to be in the room with the person signing the will, but there was only one, this could indicate improper execution.
  • If you can prove that the document your loved one signed was not the document he or she agreed to, that could mean that fraud occurred.
  • If you can prove that someone unduly influenced your loved one into signing the will, that would also constitute grounds to contest the will. For instance, if another family member used extreme pressure to convince your loved one to give him or her a larger share of the estate than identified in a previous version of the will.

Under Tennessee law, if a confidential relationship existed between the testator and a person who you believe unduly benefited under a will you may be able to challenge the will in whole or in part. In this event, certain suspicious circumstances can give rise to a presumption that the transaction was the result of undue influence.

If you believe any of the above circumstances exists, you should consult with an attorney to discuss your rights.