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Home » Probate Law in Tennessee

Probate Law in Tennessee

nashville-probate-attorneyThe loss of a loved one can be devastating.  At Turner Law Offices, P.C., our Nashville probate attorneys understand how hard the death of a loved one can be on the family, both emotionally and financially.  You can count of one of our caring, compassionate probate lawyers to guide you through the probate process and to minimize the frustration normal in the legal process.  Our probate team has extensive experience in large high asset estates, small estate administration, and will contest litigation.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a commonly used term after the death of a loved one.  Probate, however, has specific legal meanings, and basically means that a Last Will & Testament is presented to the Probate Court to determine the validity of the Will, then to make sure that all of the valid, legal debts are paid and the remaining assets are distributed pursuant to the Will.  “Probating a Will” simply means the legal process of determining whether a Will is legally valid and then following the directives contained in a will.

What Is Included In The Probate Estate?

Generally speaking, personal property owned solely in the name of the deceased person is subject to the probate process.  All jointly owned personal property and real estate passes outside the will, and is generally not part of the probate estate.  Life insurance proceeds are not part of the probate estate unless the life insurance policy names the estate as the beneficiary.  Accounts that name a beneficiary, i.e. retirement accounts, 401K, etc., are not part of the probate estate.

What If The Decedent Died With A Will?

The general steps of the legal probate process are the following:

  1. A Petition To Probate Will is filed in the Probate Court.
  2. Notice of Filing of the Petition is sent to all heirs at law.
  3. Notice of Hearing is filed, and all heirs at law are afforded the opportunity to attend the probate hearing.  The probate hearing is an open court proceeding; anyone can attend.
  4. The Last Will & Testament is presented to the Probate Court, and the Probate Judge hears testimony that the document purports to be the last Will of the deceased person, and that the Will has been executed in accordance with Tennessee Probate Law.
  5. The Probate Judge names a personal representative, i.e. executor or executrix, to pay all legally valid debts, then to distribute the remaining assets of the deceased person based on the directives of the Will.
  6. Notice To Creditors is published in a newspaper for three (3) consecutive months for any creditor who wishes to be paid to come forward and make a claim against the probate estate.
  7. The legally valid debts are paid by the executor/executrix, and the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will.
  8. After all the debts are paid and the assets are distributed, the Probate Estate is closed.

 What Is Small Estate Administration?

If there is a will and the value of the estate is less than Twenty Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00), a small estate administration is a quicker, less expensive option in some cases.  This process is similar to “probating a will”, but is done in a less formal manner and is generally done via a Small Estate Affidavit.  The affiant is the personal representative, and is required to pay all legally valid debts and distribute the remaining assets pursuant to the directives of the will.

What If The Decedent Died Without A Will?

If a person dies without a will, the legal process is called Intestate Administration.  The probate process is very similar; however, the property of the deceased passes based on the law of intestate succession.  Intestate succession is very complicated, and only an experienced probate attorney can effectively administer the estate.  The general steps of the administration process are the following:

  1. A Petition To Administer is filed in the Probate Court.
  2. Notice of Filing of the Petition is sent to all heirs at law.
  3. Notice of Hearing is filed, and all heirs at law are afforded the opportunity to attend the probate hearing.  The probate hearing is an open court proceeding; anyone can attend.
  4. The Probate Court is asked to name a personal representative, known as the Administrator/Administratrix.  The personal representative will be required to make a bond equal to the amount of the liquid assets, and will have to file an inventory of the assets and make an accounting of the funds of the deceased
  5. The Administrator/Administratrix pays all legally valid debts, then distributes the remaining assets of the deceased person based on the law of intestacy.
  6. Notice To Creditors is published in a newspaper for three (3) consecutive months for any creditor who wishes to be paid to come forward and make a claim against the probate estate.
  7. The legally valid debts are paid by the Administrator/Administratrix, and the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to Tennessee intestacy law.
  8. After all the debts are paid and the assets are distributed, the Probate Estate is closed.

What Other Cases Does The Probate Court Handle?

In addition to decedents estates, the Probate Court handles the following types of cases:

Hire An Experienced Probate Lawyer

The probate processes is extremely complicated to people without prior experience in handling these matters.  Turner Law Offices, P.C. works closely with our probate clients to timely and effectively handle probate matters in a competent, compassionate manner.  Hire a probate lawyer who understands probate practice and has experience handling complex probate matters.  Request Free Consultation Online or call our office today and schedule your free in person meeting with one of our probate attorneys.

(615) 259-2660

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