In Tennessee, the executor of a deceased parent's estate is obligated to manage and settle the estate's affairs. Tennessee requires an executor to probate a parent's estate -- whether the parent died with a will or not -- if the parent owned any property in his or her name. Large, complex estates are typically probated, and probate courts assist the executor during the process. Title 30 of Tennessee's state code addresses the duties of an executor when an estate is probated.
Tennessee law requires an executor to obtain letters testamentary through the probate court where the deceased parent lived. Letters testamentary grant authority to executors to act of behalf of the probated estate. Once an executor receives letters testamentary, he will then have the ability to access his deceased parent's bank accounts. Usually, banks will not allow access to accounts until an executor presents a copy of letters testamentary.
Tennessee law addresses probate bonds. These bonds are much like collateral. They provide funds that protect heirs should the executor make any mistakes. For example, if an executor wrongly pays a deceased person's debt using estate funds that were meant to be distributed to rightful heirs, a probate bond may cover the cost of the mistake. Tennessee law allows for waiver of a probate bond if the deceased person explicitly waived it in his will, if all beneficiaries or heirs are adults who agree to no bond, or if there is no beneficiary other than the executor.
Tennessee law requires an executor of a deceased parent's estate to take inventory of all estate assets. Executors must inventory an estate within 60 days of being officially recognized as the executor by the probate court. However, some wills include a waiver of inventory; if a deceased parent's will does not list inventory as a requirement, the executor is excused from having to submit an inventory checklist to the probate court. Additionally, an executor may be excused from submitting an inventory if all the beneficiaries agree that an inventory is not necessary.
Settling the Estate
One of the last steps in the probate process is settling the estate. Tennessee law addresses distribution of estate assets and settling a deceased person's estate. This typically involves distributing whatever assets remain -- after all taxes, debts and administrative expenses are paid -- to rightful beneficiaries as expressed in the will.
Tennessee law does not distinguish between children of the deceased who are named executor and other individuals. The responsibilities are the same, whether or not the executor is a child of the deceased. Thus, Tennessee laws that address an executor's obligations apply uniformly to all.