Responsibilities of an Executor of Estate in Nashville, Tennessee

By Beverly Bird

The probate division of the Seventh Circuit Court oversees probate of estates in Nashville, Tennessee. The executor of an estate must report in periodically to this court. Normally, a decedent names an executor in his will: This is the person he wants to settle his estate, paying his debts and apportioning his remaining assets among his beneficiaries. When a decedent does not leave a will, his estate must still pass through probate, but the probate division appoints an executor.

The probate division of the Seventh Circuit Court oversees probate of estates in Nashville, Tennessee. The executor of an estate must report in periodically to this court. Normally, a decedent names an executor in his will: This is the person he wants to settle his estate, paying his debts and apportioning his remaining assets among his beneficiaries. When a decedent does not leave a will, his estate must still pass through probate, but the probate division appoints an executor.

Opening Probate

The executor’s first responsibility is to officially begin the probate process. An executor accomplishes this by presenting the will and a copy of the death certificate to the probate division and completing an application to probate the estate. In cases where there is no will, the person who wishes to serve as executor must still submit the application and the death certificate and request appointment to the position. The court clerk will validate the will, making sure it meets all of Tennessee’s legal requirements, then schedule a hearing so a judge can swear in the executor.

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Giving Notice

The executor must immediately give notice to heirs, beneficiaries and the decedent’s creditors that his estate is in probate. This involves actual written notice to anyone with an interest in the estate, such as the decedent’s relatives, regardless of whether the decedent named them in his will. The estate must also publish a newspaper notice to notify any creditors that the executor doesn’t know about. In Nashville, the probate court clerk handles publication for the executor. The probate court clerk also provides official notices that the executor can mail to known creditors.

Assets

The executor’s next responsibility is to marshal the decedent’s assets. This involves identifying them and locating them. Some assets might need appraisals to establish their worth. The executor should also make sure that insurance policies are kept current on anything of value. If anyone owed money to the decedent, the executor must collect it, because that money now belongs to the estate. After all this is accomplished, the executor must file a report regarding the estate’s assets with the probate division of the Seventh Circuit Court. This inventory is due within two months of opening the estate.

Debts

The decedent’s creditors must make a claim for payment within four months of receiving notice. As these claims come in, the executor must analyze each to decide if they are legitimate. The executor must also establish if the decedent owed any taxes, either personal income taxes or estate taxes. The executor must make sure the estate doesn’t run up any unnecessary debts. This means canceling subscriptions, unnecessary services to the decedent’s home and credit accounts where interest might accumulate on balances. If the decedent was over age 55, the executor should find out if he received any benefits from TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid system. Some of these benefits require repayment. Assets might have to be liquidated to pay these expenses, and the executor is responsible for doing this as well.

Closing the Estate

After all debts and expenses are paid, the executor must distribute the estate’s remaining assets to the will’s named beneficiaries. The executor must then file a final accounting with the probate division of the Seventh Circuit Court. If the decedent left no will, his assets are distributed to his next of kin according to state law. If beneficiaries and heirs sign statements acknowledging their bequests and their satisfaction with the administration of the estate, the probate court clerk will accept these as a final accounting. Otherwise, the executor must submit a more detailed report, including all the estate’s cancelled checks written for taxes and debts. This officially closes the estate.

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References

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What Is the Meaning of Settle Estate?

A Last Will and Testament contains instructions for the distribution of a person's assets, also referred to as the estate, when he dies. The will names a specific person, known as the executor, to act as the estate's representative. The executor, sometimes referred to as the administrator, must collect the decedent's assets, pay his debts and estate taxes, and distribute his remaining assets to the heirs named in the will. This process, called settling the estate, occurs under the supervision of the state probate court.

How Long Does an Executor of a Will Have to Settle an Estate?

An executor has certain responsibilities and requirements he must meet before settling, or closing, an estate. If he manages the estate improperly and distributes assets before settling with creditors and paying taxes, he could be held personally liable for monies owed. While the probate process usually takes six months to a year, it can take longer if the executor delays his duties or if the estate is complicated.

Time Limitations in California State Inheritance Laws

Many deadlines follow a person's death as his estate is being probated in California. Probate is the process by which courts make sure that a deceased person's debts are paid and property distributed to his heirs. Deadlines in this process must be satisfied in order for the process to proceed smoothly. Probate only applies if the combined value of the decedent's real and personal property are greater than $150,000 at the time of death. If the estate's assets are less than this, these deadlines are irrelevant.

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