What is Probate in Tennessee?

Take a deep breath and remain calm.   If it is handled correctly the probate procedure in Tennessee is usually easy and inexpensive.    Our Tennessee Probate Lawyers have helped thousands of people navigate through probate process.  We have found that once our clients  understands how probate works and what to expect then much of stress and anxiety disappears.  To give you an overview of Tennessee Probate we have set forth a little summary below.

While you may have heard of probate, you may not know how the process works.  Probate is a term that is used in several different ways. It can refer to the act of presenting a will to the court, which is known as “probating” the will. This is a step to let everyone know that you believe the will is genuine and you are going through with the decedent’s wishes as to the distribution of their property.   However, probate more commonly refers to the process in which an estate is administered with the oversight of the court after someone passes away. Probate courts (chancery courts in Tennessee) have authority in our state to oversee all probate matters.

It is important to note that not all property is required to go through the probate process.  Normally, only assets the decadent possessed in their name alone must go through probate. All other property can go to the new owners without going through the court approved probate process. Property that go through probate are known as a “probate estate.”

Here are some common assets that may be not part of the formal probate process:

  • Payable-on-death bank accounts
  • Real Estate or other property held in joint tenancy (this is a fancy word meaning more than one person owned it together)
  • Any property held in tenancy by the entirety
  • Proceeds from Life Insurance
  • Assets registered in transfer-on-death form
  • Retirement accounts

Probate provides an supervised and orderly way to give  your assets making up the probate estate after someone has passed away. The probate procedure typically involves several steps that we have set forth below:

  1. First what, if any, assets subject to probate.
  2. The will is presented to the court to determine to make sure it is valid.
  3. A personal representative of the estate  is appointed “opening” the estate. This person is usually called the executor or executrix.  If there was no will they call them the administrator.
  4. Any creditors and beneficiaries are notified that the estate has been opened.
  5. The personal representative collects and accounts for all the property that will pass through the estate.
  6. Debts of the estate are paid off following specified procedural requirements. If a debt is believed not to be legitimate an objection is filed.
  7. The assets are distributed to the specified beneficiaries.
  8. The estate is then closed. Done!

If the person dies without a will court follows the same procedures only without the verification of a will.   This is known as dying intestate.  State statutes dictate the beneficiaries.

While this summary provides a brief outline of the probate process, sometimes there are complications with the process.  As such, it can be very beneficial to have the help of an experienced probate attorney to help with any complex issues. Usually, the probate attorney is paid from the estate. 

If you need the help of a Tennessee Estate and Probate Lawyer feel free to contact our office. Our experienced Tennessee lawyers can answer your probate questions.  It is our mission to make probate as easy and stress-free as possible for each of our clients.