Recently, attorney Jim Higgins stopped by Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 Talk of the Town Extra to discuss some steps to take when meeting with a Tennessee probate attorney after a death. When a person passes away, you may not exactly know where to turn next. If you have been nominated as an executor of an estate, you understandably may feel overwhelmed with so much to do. Often an estate will need to go through the probate court to ensure that creditors are paid and assets are distributed. A Tennessee probate attorney can help you through the probate process. The video below discusses what steps should be taken when meeting with a Tennessee probate attorney after a death. If you have any further questions regarding the probate process in Tennessee, contact the Nashville probate lawyers at The Higgins Firm.
While the word “probate” encompasses a number of definitions, it is typically used to define the court process of transferring a decedent’s assets. Probate has seemingly gained a bad reputation in a number of states due to certain factors like the length of time and expense of a case. However, that reputation may be undeserving here in Tennessee. Every state has established different probate laws and procedures. The great thing about Tennessee is that often probate does not require the time or expense that it would require within other states. In in an effort to shorten the proceedings and cut down on costs, Tennessee has established expedited probate procedures that can be utilized in certain situations depending on the type or size of assets within an estate. For instance, a small estate may be utilized for personal property totaling under $50,000. In addition, probating a will for muniment of title can provide for the transfer of real estate to a beneficiary more easily. And in some cases, probate may not be needed at all. If a decedent left behind assets that were jointly owned or that had beneficiary designations, you may not even have to utilize the probate court to transfer those assets. Even if an estate needs to be fully probated, Tennessee is known for its relatively easy probate process. If you have questions about your options in probating an estate, contact the Nashville probate lawyers at The Higgins Firm. Our probate attorneys would be happy to guide you through the Tennessee probate process.
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.
Recently, attorney Jim Higgins appeared on Nashville’s WSMV to talk about what happens when someone passes away without a will. Although there are a number of benefits to having a will in place, it is not the end of the world if you do not have one. The important difference when someone dies without a will in place is that the state determines where the decedent’s assets will go rather than the specific person before his or her passing. Tennessee state law has set forth where the assets should be distributed based solely upon family relationships rather than any specific need that a certain family may have. Obviously, people have the ability to determine where they want their assets to go, and a will serves that very purpose. However, in leaving such an important decision up to state statutes, there is not the flexibility to determine where you want any of your stuff to go after you’re gone. If you have any questions about any probate matters in Tennessee, be sure to contact the Nashville probate attorneys at The Higgins Firm.
Working as a Tennessee probate attorney, I get calls every day from people asking whether or not their loved one’s estate will have to go through probate court. Probate court is the court that oversees the payment of any debts and the transferring of a person’s assets after a person’s death. Like so many things in the legal field, determining whether an estate needs to be probated depends on a number of factors. Each person’s estate is different and is comprised of different types of assets. Thankfully Tennessee offers different options for those estates of varying sizes and types.
Only Certain Assets Are Probate Assets
Only certain assets are required to go through some type of probate administration. Generally, only those assets that the decedent had in his or her name alone are required to go through some probate administration. If the asset has a listed beneficiary, is owned jointly with another person, or has a transferrable on death designation, the asset is not required to go through probate court as it transfers immediately upon a person’s death.
Probate has almost become a scary or intimidating word to so many. You may have heard some horror story as it relates to the probate process. However, it’s important to know that the probate process can be much easier with the help of a good attorney. You can rest easy knowing that the Tennessee probate attorneys at The Higgins Firm will be helping you on your case. Our goal is to make the probate process simple, efficient, and stress-free for you. We understand that you have been through a difficult time. For that reason we try to make it as easy as possible on our clients.
To make it easier on our clients, we offer a flat fee structure, so that you know exactly how much you’ll be charged up front. Our clients don’t have to worry about hourly fees piling up creating a huge bill. Also at The Higgins Firm, we offer specialized probate attorneys. Their main focus is to help you with your probate matters. Recently, attorney Jim Higgins was interviewed about the probate process in Tennessee. You can learn more about the probate process and how The Higgins Firm can help you below.
While many states choose to levy taxes on its residents through a number of taxes after they die, many states are beginning to rethink this common practice. There are a number of states that are competing for wealthy retirees through incentives like certain estate tax breaks. Although a state can bring in large amounts of tax revenue through estate or inheritance taxes, states are beginning to recognize that more benefits can be had from cutting them rather than increasing them.
Last year, the Tennessee state legislature chose to cut taxes in an attempt to hold onto some of its wealthy retirees and in hopes of bringing in more from elsewhere. Lawmakers chose to phase out the state’s inheritance tax over a period of four years. Tennessee currently allows property inherited from the estate to be exempt from paying the tax if it is valued under a certain amount. If the value of the estate is over the exempted allowance, the tax rate ranges from 5.5% at the lower end to 9.5% at its highest end. The tax exemption increases incrementally each year until being completely eliminated in 2016. The tax exemption schedule is as follows:
- 2012 – $1,000,000
There is good news for those who may be worried about having to go through the probate process in Tennessee. Certain types of probate cases in Davidson County just got their own fast track as a means to speed up the probate process in the courts. Davidson County Trial Courts recently approved the establishment of an expedited probate docket. The courts also established Special Probate Masters to preside over the newly established expedited dockets. This expedited probate docket started earlier this month on August 16.
Many people may have negative thoughts whenever the word “probate” is merely mentioned. Probate has notoriously been thought of as a long and slow process by many. While there are not any typical timelines with probate cases, some cases can end up lasting years. Because of that fact, an expedited probate docket is welcome to many who may have to utilize the probate court system.
You may be wondering what types of probate cases will be using the expedited docket. The appointed Special Probate Masters will hear uncontested probate matters which include any name change petitions, small estate administrative proceedings, petitions to administer intestate estates, petition to probate wills, codicils, or other testamentary instruments. Davidson County Probate Court handles more uncontested probate matters than any other court in Tennessee.
Although a will can provide a number of advantages, the majority of Americans do not even have a will. This situation is even more prevalent among younger adults. Only one in six people between the ages of 18 and 34 actually have a will. There are obviously a number of reasons as to why many of those people do not have a will. Whether people are unaware of the advantages, want to spend the money elsewhere, or even do not want to think about the possibility of death, it is important that people understand the benefits of having a will and what having one can do for you.
One benefit to having a will is determining who will be the legal guardian of your children upon your death. This is a very important aspect to those who have minor children. The legal guardian is responsible for the care of your children until they reach the age of majority which is 18 in Tennessee. By explicitly specifying who you want to be the legal guardian, you eliminate any confusion or controversy that would have to be settled by the court. Without a will, the court will appoint a guardian for your children. While the court uses a number of factors to make the determination of a guardian, a parent’s choice can avoid any potential problems with such a large decision.
Similarly, having a will helps to quell any potential disagreements or disputes between family and friends as to the distribution of your assets. The death of a loved one can be an extremely trying and difficult time. Unfortunately, relationships can be strained very easily in such a stressful time even by a disagreement over the distribution of assets and money. Family members may seek to lay claim over certain family heirlooms while others similarly desire the same items. A will can act as a preventative measure to solve these types of problems even before they begin.