A Loved One Has Passed Away – Now What?

If you have experienced the death of a loved one, you know that the period of time following his or her passing can be a confusing and trying time. You may not know what to do or where to turn. If the person who passed, also known as the decedent, left behind assets, there are certain requirements that must be met in order to transfer those assets to the rightful recipients under the law. Those assets may or may not be required to go through the probate process in Tennessee. If you have questions about Tennessee probate, contact one of our Nashville probate attorneys.

Following the death of a loved one, one of the first things that should be done is a review of the decedent’s important documents. Many people may keep all of their essential documents together in a file or in a particular location. Reviewing these documents will help you to have a better picture as to discovering what types of assets or debts that the decedent may have had. An inspection of ownership documents of an asset can also enable you to determine whether or not an asset is a probate or a non-probate asset.

Also, looking through these documents may allow you to determine whether the decedent left behind a will or not. A will is used by the probate court to determine where any probate assets should be distributed. As mentioned above, there are both probate assets and non-probate assets. The probate courts in Tennessee will oversee the transfer of any probate assets.

Probate assets may include any type of property that was solely owned by the decedent that did not have a beneficiary designation. For instance, a probate asset may be a bank account that was solely owned by the decedent. However, non-probate assets are not overseen by the probate court. Non-probate assets may be transferred by way of contract or other designations that do not need the approval of the court. Non-probate assets may include any assets that were jointly owned with the decedent or any assets that had a beneficiary listed. For instance, a bank account may be a non-probate asset if it was jointly owned with another person or had a payable on death designation. Many people will attempt to avoid their assets having to go through probate by adding these designations.

Once you have determined whether or not you have any probate assets, there are options as to what type of Tennessee probate proceeding may be utilized to transfer that particular asset. Any probate assets totaling less than $50,000 that do not include real property may be transferred using Tennessee’s Small Estate Act. The probate courts use this Small Estate proceeding as an expedited form of probate for more modestly sized estates. One other expedited procedure to show the transfer of real property via will is probating the will for muniment of title. By probating the will for muniment of title, the court is able to probate the will (determine its validity) and show the chain of title to the property. The court order is then typically recorded with the register of deeds to evidence the chain of title. If the assets comprising the estate include real property and other probate assets, you likely will need to fully probate the estate. Although fully probating an estate can take more time, it ensures that the assets are transferred to the rightful recipient.

If you have any questions about potentially an estate, contact the Nashville probate lawyers at The Higgins Firm.