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Will the court validate your will upon your death?

More than likely, it took you some time to make the decision to execute a will. Once you made that choice, you then began the sometimes-arduous process of figuring out how to dispose of your assets after your death.

Then, when you thought the decisions were over, you realized that you needed to choose someone to serve as the executor of your will and possibly choose a guardian for your minor children. After making all of these decisions, your wishes were put on paper and you signed it.

Make sure it's properly executed

In order for a probate court to determine that your will is valid, you must execute it in accordance with current Tennessee law. Failing to do so means that all of the work you did to get to the point of signing the document may have been for nothing. Your will must contain your signature and the signatures of two witnesses. All of you must witness the signing of the others.

It may also use a "self-proving" affidavit in which the witnesses sign an affidavit in front of a notary public indicating that they witnessed the execution of your will. This affidavit negates the requirement of the witnesses to appear in court to validate their signatures and that they did, in fact, witness you execute the will with a sound mind and a clear understanding of what you were doing.

Done properly, your will should stand up to the court's scrutiny and your probate may proceed.

What happens if something goes wrong?

Adhering to these laws is crucial. For example, a child of a man who died here in Tennessee filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of his father's will. It seems that the witnesses signed the self-proving affidavit, but failed to sign the will itself. The law clearly states that the witnesses must sign the will, and the court invalidated the will. This means that Tennessee's intestacy laws governed the distribution of his property, not his will.

As you can see, that would not be a preferable way for things to go. You may not agree with the way in which the state would distribute your assets. This is just one way in which a will may be declared invalid by a court. You may want to work with an experienced estate planning attorney in order to ensure that your will stands up in court.

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