Assigned on Briefs August 1, 2017
from the Probate Court for Davidson County No. 16P1690 David
Randall Kennedy, Judge
interlocutory appeal involving a will contest, the trial
court determined that Appellant did not have standing to
contest the will at issue. In light of the Tennessee Supreme
Court's recent decision in In re Estate of
Brock, No. E2016-00637-SC-R11-CV, 2017 WL 5623526 (Tenn.
Nov. 22, 2017), we reverse and remand for further
R. App. P. 9 Interlocutory Appeal; Judgment of the Probate
Court Reversed and Remanded
Cathryn Armistead, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Juan A. Horsley.
Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Andy D. Bennett,
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
STEVEN STAFFORD, JUDGE.
Jefferson Waller, Jr. (Decedent) died on September 24,
2016. On October 6, 2016, Petitioner Annie Burns
filed a petition to admit will to probate. The petition
alleged that Decedent had executed a Last Will and Testament
on August 23, 2016, which will bequeathed all of
Decedent's property to Ms. Burns ("the 2016
Will"). The petition also alleged, erroneously, that Ms.
Burns was related to Decedent and that she was his next of
kin. On the same day, Ms. Burns filed a petition for a
temporary restraining order alleging that the "unknown
relatives" of Decedent had taken control over his real
property, preventing Ms. Burns from accessing the home. On
October 7, 2016, the trial court granted the temporary
restraining order and directed that "John Doe" was
restrained from living in the Decedent's real property.
The trial court did not require any bond relative to the
temporary restraining order.
October 14, 2016, Appellant/Intervening Petitioner Juan A.
Horsley ("Appellant") filed an intervening petition
to probate a will. Therein, Appellant alleged that he was the
great nephew of Decedent and therefore was Decedent's
heir at law, along with two others, a nephew and another
great nephew, Tyrone C. Horsley (together with Appellant,
"Great Nephews"). Appellant further alleged that
Decedent executed a Last Will and Testament on November 26,
2008 ("the 2008 Will"), naming Appellant and Mr.
Horsley as co-executors and bequeathing property to the
Appellant and Decedent's other Great Nephew.
intervening petition further alleged that Ms. Burns's
initial petition contained misrepresentations regarding Ms.
Burns's consanguinity with Decedent. Appellant also
contended that the 2016 Will was procured by undue influence,
as Ms. Burns held a power of attorney over Decedent.
Appellant contended that Ms. Burns, using this power of
attorney, misappropriated funds from the estate. As such,
Appellant asked that the 2008 Will be admitted to probate and
that an inventory and accounting of the estate be ordered.
Appellant attached to his petition the 2008 Will and an
affidavit alleging that Great Nephews and Decedent's
nephew were the only intestate heirs of Decedent.
October 25, 2016, yet another Last Will and Testament was
filed with the trial court. This will, dated December 10,
2015 ("the 2015 Will"), left all property to
Intervening Petitioners George Doyle Kendrick, Sr., and
O'Liluard Lepez Kendrick, Decedent's neighbors
("Neighbors"). Shortly thereafter, on November 1,
2016, the trial court vacated the temporary restraining
order. On November 15, 2016, the trial court entered an order
noting that because of the three competing wills in this
case, issues of standing were required to be resolved. In the
intervening time, the trial court appointed a third-party to
administer the estate.
December 13, 2016 Appellant filed a brief in support of his
standing to contest the wills. Therein, Appellant alleged
that both the 2015 and 2016 Wills were invalid. On December
16, 2016, Neighbors filed a petition to admit the 2015 Will
to probate and a will contest regarding the 2016 Will.
Therein, Neighbors alleged that, inter alia, the
2016 Will was procured through undue influence and that
Decedent did not have testamentary capacity to execute the
2016 Will. On January 4, 2017, the trial court entered an
order declaring that Appellant lacked standing to contest the
2016 Will and dismissing Appellant's petition. The trial
court, however, granted Neighbors' petition to contest
the 2016 Will.
request of Appellant, the trial court subsequently granted an
interlocutory appeal regarding its decision to dismiss
Appellant's will contest on the basis of lack of
standing. In its order, the trial court noted its reluctance
to dismiss Appellant's petition where there was a basis
to believe that both the 2015 and 2016 Wills may have been
procured by "nefarious characters" using
"undue influence from a blind, illiterate, ninety-five
year old decedent." The trial court's order granting
the interlocutory appeal expressly stayed all trial court
proceedings related to the will contest pending resolution of
this appeal. This Court likewise granted Appellant's
application for an interlocutory appeal on March 14, 2017.
While this appeal was pending, this Court determined that the
Tennessee Supreme Court had granted permission to appeal in
the case relied upon by the trial court to support dismissal
of Appellant's will contest. See In re Estate of
Brock, No. E2016-00637-COA-R3-CV, 2016 WL 6503696 ...