What to Expect in Tennessee Probate Court

By Wayne Thomas

When someone passes away owning property in Tennessee, the probate court is charged with supervising administration of the estate. The depth of the court's involvement will depend on the amount and type of property in the estate, and whether there are any objections raised by those who may inherit under a will or by intestacy laws. The process is highly legal in nature, and for all estates valued at over $25,000, Tennessee requires an attorney to open the probate process and to represent the person appointed to administer the estate. Estates valued at less than that amount and having no real property can take advantage of a streamlined procedure known as a small estate probate.

Probate Property

In Tennessee, probate is a court-supervised process that involves the transfer of property from the deceased person's assets to those entitled to take possession of the property. Probate is required if the deceased person owned assets in his name, regardless of whether a will was present. But only probate property such as real estate and personal property will be subject to the oversight of the court. Non-probate property includes assets that transfer automatically, such as property held in a trust, life insurance proceeds, payable on death accounts and real estate owned by joint tenants or tenants by the entirety.

Proving the Will

When a person dies leaving a valid will, the attorney retained by the estate must submit to the court the will and a petition to open probate in the county where the deceased person lived. A judge will first authenticate the document and make sure it complies with Tennessee law. Unless a self-proving affidavit was used at the time the will was executed, a witness to the signing of the will needs to corroborate the testator's signature. A self-proving affidavit is a notarized document executed at the time the will is signed attesting that the will was executed in accordance with the law. Any challenges to the validity of the will by potential heirs may also be addressed following submission of the will.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Appointment of Personal Representative

The next step for the probate court is the appointment of a personal representative to collect, inventory and distribute the probate property. The person appointed is known as an executor if named in the will or an administrator if not named, or if no valid will is present. If not named, the court will make the appointment according state law, which prioritizes surviving spouses, followed by next of kin. Challenges to the appointment of the personal representative by potential heirs, such as allegations of lack of mental capacity, may be addressed by the court at this time.

Notice

Within 30 days after the appointment of the personal representative, the court is required to provide general notice to creditors, so that the creditors may present any claims against the estate. This is accomplished by either newspaper or by posting notice in a public place for a period of two weeks. Creditors are forever barred from collecting on any claims that are not brought within four months after publication or posting. The executor must notify all known creditors of their rights to bring a claim in person or by mail. Claims not brought within 60 days after actual notice is provided are forever barred.

Allowance

While probate is pending, the surviving spouse, or unmarried minor children if there is no surviving spouse, are entitled to up to a year of financial support from the estate. In setting the amount of the allowance, the court attempts to continue the spouse or children's standard of living, subject to the net value of the estate and any outstanding debts.

Closing the Estate

The executor must present an accounting of the value of all probate property to the court and ensure payment of creditors claims and all taxes. The court then orders a reasonable amount of compensation to the executor for services performed, if requested. The executor may then distribute any remaining property according to the terms of the will or by state law if there is no will. Dying without a valid will is known as intestacy, and in such cases the court prioritizes heirs based on the proximity of their legal or blood relationship to the deceased person. Once distribution is complete, the court will review a final accounting from the representative and the estate is closed.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
New Jersey's Probate Estate Laws With an Executor Fee

References

Related articles

Death Without a Will in Michigan

Under Michigan law, when a person dies without a will, it is said the person died intestate. The law has rules for what happens to a person's property when a person dies without a will. These rules are necessary because there is no will to provide direction as to how the deceased wished to distribute his property. The probate court will distribute property that was not owned jointly, as well as property that did not have a named beneficiary, according to Michigan law.

How Much Can an Executor Charge for Services in Ohio?

When you die, someone must carry out the task of collecting and distributing your property. The process is known as probate, and the person you name in your will to be in charge of administering probate is known as the executor. Although the amount of work involved in a probate proceeding can vary, executors in Ohio are entitled to compensation from your estate for their services, and this compensation is based on the total value of your property.

New York Estate Law When the Executor Dies

New York, like all other states, recognizes a written will as the proper method for making your wishes known as to the distribution of your assets when you die. The executor is the person named in the will to see that the terms of the will are carried out. If an executor dies before she has completed her duties, the court must appoint a new executor.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

The Inheritance Statute in Washington, DC

Washington, D.C. has enacted the Uniform Probate Code, a law drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on ...

Legal Rights for a Widow With No Will in NC

Having a will in place helps clarify how a deceased person wanted his property distributed to his loved ones. If no ...

Probating a Small Estate in Hawaii

Probate is a court-supervised process involving the collection and distribution of assets owned by a deceased person. ...

Who Pays the Cost for the Attorney Fees & the Executor of Probate?

By creating a will and naming an executor, you set forth instructions for the transfer of assets from your estate to ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED