In some situations, the existence of multiple wills can lead to confusion or even litigation after the death of the testator. In a March 21, 2018 opinion, the Court of Appeals reviewed a will contest action arising out of a Tennessee estate dispute involving two wills. The plaintiff in the case was the decedent’s daughter. She filed an action challenging one of the wills that disinherited her and her sisters.
In 1991, the decedent executed a Last Will and Testament, providing the majority of her estate to her husband and, should he predecease her, the remainder to her children. In 2009, the decedent executed a second will, in which she explicitly revoked all former wills. In the 2009 will, the decedent left the bulk of her estate to her husband and the remainder to a charity, and she disinherited all of her children. The decedent’s husband passed away before her death in 2013.
The plaintiff filed a petition to probate the 1991 will and was named the executor of the decedent’s estate. Shortly thereafter, the charity named in the decedent’s later will filed a petition to probate the 2009 will. The plaintiff challenged the 2009 will, alleging that the decedent had instructed another person to destroy the 2009 will in her presence and indeed believed that it had been destroyed, therefore rendering the decedent intestate or making the 1991 will effective. The circuit court dismissed the will contest for failure to state a claim.