Getting a Copy of a Last Will and Testament in Tennessee

By Timothy Mucciante

In Tennessee, a will executed by a testator (the person making the will) is typically available only after the testator passes. The will is made publicly available when it is read in open court, if the testator deposited the will with the clerk of the probate court. Eventually, every will probated in a county probate court in Tennessee becomes publicly available and then anyone can obtain a copy of the document.

Probating a Will

Probating a will is a process in which a probate court judge examines the testator’s last will and testament and distributes the testator's assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. An asset is anything the testator owned, including real estate, personal property, cash and investments. Once the will is admitted to probate, the personal representative named in the will is responsible for carrying out the last wishes of the testator.

Will Deposited With the Probate Court

Tennessee law permits a testator to deposit his executed will with the clerk of the probate court for the county in which the testator resides. By depositing a last will and testament with the probate court, there will be little question as to which will the testator intended to be probated. Once the will is deposited, only the testator may remove it from the court files; no one else may see it or obtain a copy of it.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Will Read in Open Court

If the testator deposits his will with the probate court, when he passes, a probate judge will read the will in open court. If the testator did not deposit the will with the probate court and the testator’s personal representative locates the will, it must be immediately delivered to the probate court clerk. The will is then read in open court. After the will is read, a copy of the document may be requested from the court clerk.

A Will Is Public Record When Probate Proceedings Start

If a will is not deposited with the probate court clerk, the will becomes public record when it is filed with the clerk’s office after the testator’s death. Once the document is a public record, anyone may read it or obtain a copy. For example, Elvis Presley's will was made available to the public after it was filed with the probate court six days after he died. If any person wants a certified copy of a will – even the last will and testament of Elvis Presley – most probate courts in Tennessee will provide it for a small fee.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Can You Get a Copy of a Will Before Someone Dies?


Related articles

How to Contest a Last Will & Testament in Arizona

If you're the beneficiary of a deceased person's will or believe you are entitled to inherit, you may contest the will in probate court if you believe the will isn't valid. Arizona law provides several circumstances that may render a will invalid. It is best to contest a will as soon as possible before distribution of the estate occurs. However, once an estate is closed, you can still make a claim against the personal representative, who is the person responsible for managing and distributing the estate, for a breach of fiduciary duty. A claimant also has three years after the decedent’s death or one year after the date of distribution to file a claim.

How to Force an Executor to Execute a Will in Oklahoma

Oklahoma law requires anyone in possession of a will, such as the named executor, to present it to the court within 30 days of the testator's (will maker) death. If the will is not presented within the 30-day window, Oklahoma law allows any heir, beneficiary or other interested party to compel presentation of the will, which begins the probate process and effectively forces the executor to execute, or probate, the will.

Are Massachusetts Wills Public Record?

In Massachusetts, you can choose to file your will for safekeeping in your local county probate court. During your lifetime, you are the only person who can access the will from the court's files, but you can name a person to retrieve it upon your death. When you die, if no one claims your will from the court's files, the probate court opens it up to the public following publication of your death.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

What if an Executor of an Estate Destroys the Decedent's Last Will & Testament?

When a person draws up her will, she may think her work is done. A valid will sets out a road map as to what will ...

How to Find Out If You Are a Beneficiary in a Final Will When a Relative Dies

During a person's lifetime, her will is private; she determines who views the document. After she dies, the will ...

How Can I Get a Copy of a Will?

TV shows often portray a lawyer reading the last will and testament to the assembled family. In real life, you usually ...

How to File a Will & Testament in Florida

A will describes how the person writing it -- the testator -- wants his property to be distributed when he dies and ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED