July 18, 2019

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Tennessee Probate Law

This web page covers the basics of Tennessee Probate Law.  Read below to learn more.

When a person dies, it is usually necessary for their estate to go through a process called probate. Probate occurs whether there is a will or not. It can be a very lengthy process, tying up property and assets for years. There are several things that a person can do in life to keep their estate or parts of their estate out of probate so that their loved ones do not have to wait to receive the property and assets which are meant to pass to them.

Probate Basics

Tennessee probate takes at least four months and can take years. If there is a will it must be validated by the court. The executor or administrator is appointed and the estate is opened. Creditors, beneficiaries and the general public are notified that the estate has been opened. The administrator or executor must inventory the estate and have the property and assets appraised. Creditors have four months to make a claim. The executor or administrator pays the debts of the estate before distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

Tennessee requires executors and administrators to be represented by an attorney.

When there is No Valid Will

If there is no will, the estate is said to be intestate will be distributed according to Tennessee laws of descent and distribution, to the heirs at law. If there is a surviving spouse and surviving children, the entire estate is divided among them with the spouse receiving no less than one-third of the estate. If there are no children, the spouse receives the entire estate and if there is no spouse the children receive the entire estate. When there is neither a spouse nor children, the law goes into further detail along the line of descent.

In some states any interested party can ask to be the administrator if the estate. In Tennessee, the law gives an order of preference for the administrator beginning with the surviving spouse and ending at creditors. If you are in line to be an administrator, you do not have to accept the task. It is a very big responsibility and very time consuming.

Property and Assets Which Do Not Go Through Probate

Certain assets do not go through probate and go directly to beneficiaries or surviving owners instead. These include:

  • Payable-on-death accounts
  • Transfer-on-death stocks and bonds
  • Property owned jointly with right of survivorship