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Creating a will is an important step for almost anyone in Southeastern Tennessee to take. Doing so can save a lot of trouble for one’s family after one’s death, as a well-drafted will should give clear instructions about how a Cleveland resident wants her property handled after she dies.

However, while an important estate planning device, a will is no guarantee that our state’s probate process will go along without a hitch. After all, a disgruntled family member may challenge the validity of a will for a number of reasons.

Perhaps because they are such important documents, wills have to be written in a specific way and include specific language. Wills also have to be properly signed and appropriately witnessed, all in accord with Tennessee law. A person can challenge the validity of a will if it does not meet even just one of these requirements.

On a more substantive note, a person who creates a will has to have the mental ability to do so. Basically, this means he has to have some idea of what he owns and to whom he wishes to give it. He also has to understand what the will means, although he need not be a legal expert as to all the details.

Likewise, the person writing a will also has to be making an independent choice as to how to do so. Even setting aside outright fraud, if a third party pressured someone to write her will in a way that benefits the third party in a lopsided fashion, the will may be challenged as a case of undue influence.