Recently, I appeared on Nashville’s News Channel 5 Talk of the Town Extra to talk about the basics of probate in Tennessee. If you have recently experienced the loss of a loved one, you know how hard things can be during such a trying time. For that reason, our firm is able to assist and advise you throughout the process. Whether you need help transferring a piece of real estate after someone has passed or need assistance with a small estate, The Higgins Firm is here to help you and your family. The following video provides some of the basic information about probate in Tennessee. If you have any further questions regarding probate, contact the Nashville probate lawyers at The Higgins Firm.
Probate has somewhat undeservingly developed a negative reputation from some over the years. Certain people who have gone through the probate process may negatively talk about the cost or time required to probate an estate. However, for the probate process to work properly, there are certain requirements that must be met in order for an estate to be probated. These requirements allow the court to properly oversee the probate process which benefits both the personal representative and the beneficiaries of the estate. If you have any questions regarding probating an estate in the middle Tennessee area, contact our Nashville probate lawyers.
There are a number of benefits of probating an estate. The main benefit in probating an estate is the court’s oversight of the transfer of any assets owned solely in the name of the decedent. Certain entities like banks or other financial institutions will not allow for the transfer of assets without an order from the probate court. When the probate court issues an order, this signifies that the court has given oversight to the last will and testament or the next of kin to transfer the estate’s assets. This oversight enables a bank or other institution to then transfer the assets without any fear of transferring to the wrong party. In other words, the court is able to verify who should receive what assets according to the will or laws of intestacy.
Probate ensures that the transfer of assets is done in an open and orderly manner. Without a court overseen process, assets could be transferred to the wrong person or they could be transferred in the incorrect amount. In addition, a person could claim to have distributed all of the assets without actually having some way to verify that fact. The probate court allocates authority to the personal representative (person nominated executor in the will or appointed administrator) to pay off any debts that the decedent may have had and to distribute any remaining assets within the estate. The court requires that the personal representative complete certain requirements to ensure that the proper steps have been taken.
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.