In any Tennessee will contest case, there may be a number of relatives of the deceased who will benefit from the will contest case if the Will at issue is set aside. There might also be non-relative beneficiaries of a previous Will who will benefit if the Will is set aside. In such circumstances, who has the right to file the will contest case? In such circumstances, do relatives or beneficiaries who have not filed the will contest case have a right to join the case? Should the other relatives or beneficiaries join the will contest case as parties?
For answers to the above questions, let’s use a hypothetical and assume these facts:
- Mother dies leaving six children
- One of the children is Sister Susan
- All of her life, Mother made it clear that she wanted her children to receive her assets in equal shares
- Just before her death, when she was weak and dependent on Sister Susan, Mother executed a Will which bequeathed most all of her assets to Sister Susan
- Mother had never executed any other Will
Following Mother’s death, Sister Susan offers the Will for probate. Right after, Brother Bill, one of the six children of Mother, hires a will contest lawyer and files a will contest case based on incompetency and undue influence.
Under Tennessee law, none of the other siblings is required to join the will contest case filed by Brother Bill. Under Tennessee law, they can if they want to do so, but should they? Whether they should or should not depends on the circumstances of each case.