Probate Law in Tennessee: The Basics

 In Probate

The probate process in Tennessee can be confusing. We’re here to help. The first thing you should understand is when probate is necessary. There are certain assets your loved one may have that will not require the probate process, including:

  • Any jointly owned asset – if you and your spouse owned a home together at the time of their death, you would solely own the home upon death. You should contact an attorney to find out how to transfer the deed to your name.
  • Accounts with named beneficiaries — life insurance policies and retirement accounts generally have the name of a beneficiary attached. Unless the named beneficiary is the estate of the decedent, these assets would not require probate.
  • Estates valued at less than $50,000 — if the total estate value is $50,000 or less, you can file a small estate affidavit 45 days after the death of a loved one and skip the probate process.
  • Estate assets that are part of a trust — if the decedent had their assets in a trust, there is no need to go through the probate process. These assets will be handled by the successor trustee of the trust upon the original owner’s death.

Decedents With no Will

When there is no will in place and assets that are not jointly held, the estate may need to go through the probate process. This process is governed by Tennessee Code Title 30: Administration of Estates and related titles.

In cases where there was no will and the estate is valued at over $50,000, the court will appoint a representative who is responsible for filing an inventory of assets, contacting heirs and creditors, distributing the assets of the estate, paying outstanding debts, and filing a final tax return for the estate.  The court will issue Letters of testamentary to the representative, giving them the authority to pay debts, distribute assets, and final tax filings. The court will oversee this process through its completion, but it is a good idea to work with an experienced probate law attorney.

We understand you have several issues to deal with upon losing a loved one. Since probate law can be complicated, contact the Slaughter Law Firm at (423) 844-0560 today for help. We can help ensure no costly mistakes are made during this process.