One of the questions that I often get is, “How long does probate take in Tennessee?” Although many times it is very simple, the probate process can become very complicated depending on what type of assets or debts are within the estate. As a result, an estate can remain open for a longer period of time depending on certain factors.
Fully probating an estate (not a small estate) takes a minimum of four months following the time of first publication. After an estate has been opened with the court, publication is made within a local newspaper notifying any potential creditors that the estate has been opened. During this four month period, creditors are then able to file a claim against the estate for the repayment of any debts that the decedent may have incurred. After this required four month period, an estate can be closed assuming that all debts have been paid and all of the necessary requirements have been met.
It is important to keep in mind that four months is the bare minimum amount of time that an estate will remain open. There is no guarantee that the estate will be closed at the end of the four month period. Often estates will remain open for a month or two longer depending on whether certain steps have been completed or not.
So what factors can cause the estate to remain open? No matter the size of an estate or how many creditors there are, each estate in Tennessee must meet around 8 to 10 requirements in order to be closed. Some of those requirements include receiving release forms from TennCare and the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Other necessary steps include filing signed forms from the personal representative or beneficiaries with the probate court.
However, other factors can often delay these steps from being taken. For instance, if the estate has a large number of creditors, each claim will have to be paid in full or settled before the estate can be closed. Also, if there are disagreements between the beneficiaries of the estate, the process can last longer because the court may have to settle the disagreements. In addition, if the estate has property that is located in another state, the estate can end up being open for longer. These are just a few of the factors that can lengthen the probate process.
As a result, it is a reasonable estimation that an estate will remain open on average for about six months. Obviously, some could be open for as little as four months while others could last upwards of nine months or more. Each estate is different. It is important to understand that although the probate process takes time, the court requires each step to enable its oversight of the estate. If you have questions about probating an estate in the Nashville or middle Tennessee area, contact the Nashville probate attorneys at The Higgins Firm. Our team of probate lawyers would be happy to answer any of your probate questions.