Whether or not a will has or has not been revoked can sometimes be the subject of probate litigation in Tennessee courts. The answer to that question may also determine who receives a substantial amount of money or other property.
There is a Tennessee statute, T.C.A. §32-1-201, which sets forth several methods by which a will, or part of a will, can be revoked. Under that statute, a will, or any part of the will, may be revoked by:
(1) A subsequent will. Usually, wills expressly state that they revoke all previous wills. The statute also provides that, even if the will does not expressly revoke a prior will, it does so if it is inconsistent with the prior will.
(2) A document of revocation which is executed in the same manner as an attested will or a holographic will which expressly revokes the prior will or a part of it.
(3) If the will is “burned, torn, cancelled, obliterated or destroyed” with the intent to revoke. This method is effective if done by the testator, or by someone acting for the testator and in his or her presence when the act is performed.
(4) A marriage of the testator occurring after the will was made and the birth of a child of the testator after the will was made.
The provision allowing a will, or part thereof, to be revoked by being “cancelled” was interpreted by the Court of Appeals of Tennessee in the case of In re Estate of Warren (Tenn. Ct. App 1999). This is an important case with which any Tennessee probate litigation attorney should be familiar. Here are the facts: Continue reading →