It’s a crime under Tennessee law:

Any person who destroys or conceals the last will and testament of a testator, or any codicil thereto, with intent to prevent the probate thereof or defraud any devisee or legatee, commits a Class E felony.

A Class E felony is punishable by not less than one (1) year nor more than six (6) years. In addition, the jury may assess a fine not to exceed three thousand dollars ($3,000), unless otherwise provided by statute.

Relying on an earlier version of this statute, the Tennessee Court of Appeals has indicated that a person in possession of a will has a duty to bring it forward, absent knowledge of any defect in its execution.

Sources: T.C.A. § 39-14-131; McLure v. Wade, 235 S.W.2d 835 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1950)

Posted by Joel D. Roettger, JD, LLM, EPLS