Wills: You Have to Follow the Law

Aurthur Fowler - 1/29/2016

The Tennessee Court of Appeals in In re Estate of Morris sent a reminder to follow the law when preparing a Last Will and Testament. On October 10, 2008, Bill Morris signed his Last Will and Testament in the presence of two witnesses. Everyone thought the witnesses signed the Will. The problem, as you can see from the picture is that between Mr. Morris’s signature and the witnesses’ signatures is a “self proving affidavit.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 32-1-104 requires two witnesses to sign the Will. The self proving affidavit is allowed under Tenn. Code Ann. § 32-2-110 but is not required. So the question for the Court is whether the self proving affidavit is part of the Will or was a separate document. The Court of Appeals found that the affidavit was a separate and distinct document and the Will ended after Mr. Morris’s signature. Because the witnesses did not sign the Will, the Court of Appeals held the Will invalid and Mr. Morris died intestate. In re Estate of Morris, 2015 Tenn. App. LEXIS 62 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 9, 2015)