Session April 10, 2019
from the Chancery Court for Dyer County No. 17-CV-434 Tony
case involves an effort to admit a lost will to probate. In
the proceedings below, the trial court held that the lost
will should be accepted for probate. Having reviewed the
record transmitted to us on appeal, we affirm the judgment of
the trial court
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed and Remanded
R. Creasy, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellants, Ania
Carpenter, and Shana Mireles.
W. Palmer and Mark D. Butler, Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the
appellees, Debra C. Jenkins, Dennis William Cook, and Dale
B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Kenny Armstrong, J.,
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
B. GOLDIN, JUDGE
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
April 25, 2012, Gayle Franklin Cook ("the
Decedent") executed a valid will at the office of
attorney John Palmer. Although the Decedent's brother,
John Cook ("Mr. Cook"), and Mr. Cook's
daughter, Debra Jenkins ("Ms. Jenkins"),
accompanied the Decedent to Mr. Palmer's office, neither
Mr. Cook nor Ms. Jenkins was present in the room when the
Decedent executed his will. It is undisputed, however, that
Mr. Cook left Mr. Palmer's office with the original of
his brother's will and that he took the original will to
his home where he placed it in a drawer with other items of
importance. According to the record, the Decedent later died
in February of 2017.
present dispute arose when Ms. Jenkins filed a petition in
December 2017 alleging that her uncle's original will had
been lost. She expressed her belief that the "lost
will" had not been revoked by the Decedent during his
lifetime, and she attached a copy of the will to her
petition, praying that it be recognized and admitted to
probate. Although Ms. Jenkins' petition noted that there
were two heirs at law of the Decedent, the petition
represented that there were three different beneficiaries
under the Decedent's lost will: Ms. Jenkins and her two
brothers, Dale and Dennis Cook. Indeed, according to the copy
of the will that was attached, the Decedent had specifically
declared that he was "not unmindful of the fact"
that he had "children and grandchildren who are not
included as beneficiaries under this Last Will and
Testament." Although the Decedent's heirs at laws
subsequently moved to dismiss Ms. Jenkins' petition,
their motion was denied by order entered May 3, 2018.
on the issue of the "lost will" occurred on
September 4, 2018, and following the conclusion of those
proceedings, the trial court entered an order holding that
"[the] April 25, 2012 [will] was simply lost and . . .
should be accepted for probate." The Decedent's
heirs at laws ("the Appellants") thereafter filed a
timely notice of appeal in this Court.
appeal, we review the trial court's findings of fact de
novo with a presumption of correctness, and we honor those
findings unless the evidence preponderates to the contrary.
In re Estate of Leath, 294 S.W.3d 571, 574 (Tenn.
Ct. App. 2008). The trial court's conclusions of law ...