How Will Courts Interpret the Tennessee Attorney Client Agreement?
Written by Ed Wallis
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At times, there are disputes over a Last Will and Testament. In cases involving the construction of wills in Tennessee, the cardinal rule “is that the court shall seek to discover the intention of the testator, and will give effect to [that intent] unless it contravenes
some rule of law or public policy.” Stickley v. Carmichael, 850 S.W.2d 127, 132 (Tenn. 1992) (quoting Bell v. Shannon, 212 Tenn. 28, 367 S.W.2d
761, 766 (Tenn. 1963)); see also In re Crowell, 154 S.W.3d 556, 559 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2004); McBride v. Sumrow, 181 S.W.3d 666, 669 (Tenn.
Ct. App. 2005).
In Tennessee will construction cases, Tennessee courts will rely on the language of the instrument to determine the testator‟s intent:
[T]he testator’s intention must be ascertained from “that which he has written” in the will, and not from what he “may be supposed to have intended to do,” and extrinsic evidence of the condition, situation and surroundings of the testator himself may be considered only as aids in the interpretation of the language used by the testator, and “the testator’s intention must ultimately be determined from the language of the instrument weighed in the light of the testator‟s surroundings, and no proof, however conclusive in its nature, can be admitted with a view of setting up an intention not justified by the language of the writing itself.” In re Cromwell, 154 S.W.3d at 559 (quoting Nichols v. Todd, 20 Tenn. App. 564, 101 S.W.2d 486, 490 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1936)); see also Pritchard on Wills §§ 384, 387, 388, and 409 (2d. ed.). [The Tennessee] Supreme Court has said that when ascertaining the testator’s intent by construing the language used in a will, [the court] must consider the entire will as a whole. In re Estate of Vincent, 98 S.W.3d 146, 150 (Tenn. 2003).
Horadam v. Stewart, M2007-00046-COA-R3-CV, 2008 WL 4491744, at *5 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 6, 2008), Rule 11 appl. perm. appeal denied April 27, 2009.
The Glassman, Wyatt, Tuttle & Cox, PC team of lawyers have experience in will, trust and conservator disputes. While the Firm does not handle probate, trust, and will preparation, we are here to help when litigation is required. Please contact us for help by calling (901) 527-2125 or complete this form: