Grandfather met with lawyer to discuss his will but passed away

My grandfather met with his lawyer on Friday to change his Will and the lawyer was to write up a new one for him to sign the following Wednesday. However, my grandfather passed away the Tuesday before he could sign it. Can the

lawyer testify in probate court that my grandfather had full intentions on changing it? We have about 20 witnesses that can also testify.

Asked on November 21, 2018 under Estate Planning, Tennessee


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Only a lawfully executed Will can control the distribution of an estate. Intent, no matter to whom expressed, does not create a valid Will. Accordingly, unless your grandfather had actually signed and had his signature witnessed, then the changes that he wanted to make to his exisiting Will had no legal effect. Bottom line, the original Will stands. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the law is very clear: a person's intentions for his estate (for example, who would inherit what) are irrelevant and have no power over the estate. Only a properly executed (signed) and witnessed will controls the disposition of an estate. So if the will was never completed or signed, then what your grandfather intended means nothing; the prior existing will remains in effect.

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