people reviewing legal documents to contest a will

Wills Contest

Nashville Will Contest Attorneys

The decision to contest a will is not an easy step to take. However, a will contest may sometimes be necessary to ensure your loved one’s actual wishes are carried out. For years, the Nashville wills contest lawyers at MHPS have been helping families contest the validity of wills throughout Middle Tennessee. We understand how hard these decisions can be. We’ll work hard to make sure the process goes smoothly and without much stress.

Last Will and Testament

Contesting a Will: What You Need to Know

A will contest is a formal objection someone raises if an individual believes the document is invalid. To contest the validity of a will, you need to have one of the following reasons:

A couple makes the choice to contest a will

Reasons for Contesting a Will

Testamentary Capacity – The person must have been of sound mind at the time of the will’s creation. The individual has to know:

  • They are making a will and its effect.
  • The nature and value of the estate.
  • The consequences of including or excluding people from the will.
  • They should not be suffering a “disorder of the mind” that could have an influence on their views.

Lack of Valid Execution – Also known as “lack of due execution,” the will must meet certain requirements in order to be considered valid. These requirements are:

  • The will is in writing.
  • A testator or someone directed to do so by the testator signs the will.
  • The testator’s signature gives effect to the will.
  • The testator makes or acknowledges in the presence of at least two witnesses.
  • Each witness must either sign or attest to the will, or acknowledge the signature in the presence of a testator.
  • The legal presumption that the will is valid unless evidence says otherwise.

will contest lawyer finalizes documentation

Living Will Declaration Document

In addition, the rules about who can and cannot witness a will’s creation are very strict.

Lack of Knowledge and Approval – The individual needs to have knowledge and approval of the content in the will. Even if the person was of sound mind and the will seems to have been executed properly, if the individual had no knowledge of what is in the document, it can be contested. For example, if the preparer of the will had put something in the will about a charitable gift that the person was unaware of, the will may be considered invalid.

Undue Influence – Sometimes, the individual may be coerced or under duress by another while creating the will. This would be a case of undue influence. It’s important to note that concrete evidence is necessary in the case of undue influence.

Fraudulent or Forged Wills – Much like undue influence, you will need to prove that the will had been forged by another or fraud has taken place.

Rectification and Construction Claims – Rectification of a will may occur if the intentions of the testator had failed to be carried out because of either a clerical error or a failure to understand the instructions.

What Happens When You Contest a Will

Let’s say your grandmother had passed away, and you learned that she hadn’t left you anything. But later, someone finds another will, one that says you’re supposed to inherit her home. You decide to contest the will. What happens next?

First, you need to know that there is a statute of limitations concerning will contests. In Tennessee, you have only two years to contest a will at the time the court had approved the will for probate. If the plaintiff is a minor at the time of the discovery of a new will that is made after two years, the two-year rule may be waived.

Then you hire an experienced wills contest attorney like one at MHPS to guide you through the process. We will fight on your behalf and show the court why the will is invalid. If the court finds the will to be invalid, you have two options:

  • The court will enforce an earlier will; or
  • The court will divide assets based on how Tennessee intestate laws would divide the estate.

contested wills and probate lawyer

contest will lawyer

Who Can Contest a Will?

In Tennessee, there are certain individuals who can contest a will. These people include:

  • Those who would have been entitled to a share of the deceased’s estate; or
  • Someone who will stand to receive something in the deceased’s will.

However, if the individual is not a beneficiary, and if they would not inherit under intestacy law, they do not have a right to contest the will.

More specifically, a person who is related to the testator may have the standing to contest a will.


When there is an issue with a will, the beneficiaries likely have questions about their rights to the estate and what legal action they can take to ensure their deceased loved ones’ wishes are met.

We know how complicated the probate process can be; that’s why we’ve created a will contest FAQs list to help you navigate the legal system.

Charitable planning is a type of estate planning which allows you to make contributions to a charity or cause you care about with the assets of your estate.

It allows you to make periodic or annual gifts throughout your lifetime as well after you pass away if you desire.

In some will contest cases, the issues may not be of a legal nature, but more of a family dispute. In those cases, it is not always necessary to file a lawsuit to contest the will. Rather, you and your family members can seek mediation to decide how best to handle the situation within the will.

In Tennessee, a will is invalid if:

  • The will was improperly created,
  • There was a lack of testamentary capacity, or
  • Undue influence was present.

In addition, Tennessee only recognizes wills that are signed by the testator and two witnesses of proper age and mental capability.

In Tennessee, if a beneficiary wants to contest a will, the case must be filed within two years of the date of the order admitting the will to probate. However, waiting for two years can jeopardize your case, so it’s best to speak to a probate attorney right away.

Illness can impact testamentary capacity in many cases. Most recently, families have battled the mental impact that a COVID-19 diagnosis can have on a loved one. In cases where expert testimony such as doctors or skilled nursing home care facilities can show that the individual’s health was failing, thus impacting their testamentary capacity or not, these cases may not be difficult.

However, if you cannot physically be with a loved one, lack of testamentary capacity can be harder to prove.

In Tennessee, a person related to the testator, or someone who was supposed to receive a portion of the testator’s estate, can contest a will–even though this does not necessarily mean their claim will be successful.

It is typically required that an original will be submitted to the court when an estate is opened. However, if the original will is lost or has been destroyed, an interested party can contest the copy of the will. It is important to know that lost will cases are highly complicated and very fact-specific, so having an experienced probate attorney on your side is critical.

Contact Our Nashville Will Contest Lawyers Now

If you are questioning the validity of a loved one’s will, it’s best to get legal advice on your next steps. For decades, the Tennessee wills contest lawyers at MHPS have been helping clients throughout Nashville, Springfield, and Middle Tennessee with their estate planning. We are prepared to help you through this difficult time. Contact us today for more information.