Probate a Will in Tennessee
In Tennessee if a person who dies has a Last Will and Testament then the Will typically must be administered in probate. In order for the Executor to gain control over the decedent’s estate and distribute the assets according to the terms of the Will, the will must be probated. Probate is the legal process of filing the Last Will and Testament with the Probate Court to have the court officially declare the Will to be a valid and genuine document, and supervise the administration of the decedent’s estate. A Last Will and Testament is a legal instrument which is a declaration of a person’s intentions in regards to the division and distribution of property after death. Unlike a Trust, a Will is not a contract, therefore it must be authenticated by the court and the provisions of the legal document must be tested and proven in the court. Probating a Will is the legal process of the court supervising the management of the property and debts of the the person who died according to the decedent’s Last Will and Testament.
The Typical General Process of Tennessee Probate
- The Attorney for the Estate will file the Last Will and Testament and Petition for Probate in the Probate Court in the Decedent’s Tennessee county of residence. In Tennessee probate is an exclusive function of the Chancery Court.
2. The Probate Court appoints a Personal Representative of the decedent’s estate. Typically the probate court will appoint the person listed as Executor or Executrix in the Last Will and Testament as the Personal Representative. However, if this person resides outside of Tennessee then an Administrator c.t.a. must also be appointed by the court to assist in administering the estate.
3. Unless specifically waived by by the decedent in the written instrument creating the Will, the Personal Representative must post a surety bond equal to the value of the estate in order to assure that the terms of the Last Will and Testament will be properly managed and carried out by the administrator. A probate bond is designed to protect the beneficiaries named in the Will and the creditors of the estate.
4. If the decedent was age 59 or older then a TennCare Release must be filed in the Probate Court. This is a determination that the person who is deceased did not have medicaid claims during his/her lifetime. Medicaid claims are a priority in probate cases.
5. All known debts of the decedent must be paid from the estate, including any claims filed in the probate court. The court will publish a notice to creditors in the local newspaper, and the administrator of the estate is required to notify all known creditors of the person who is deceased.
6. A Tennessee inheritance tax return or request for waiver pf tax must be filed with the Tennessee Department of Revenue and a Tax Release must be filed in the Probate Court.
- Unless waived by the Last Will and Testament, a complete inventory and accounting of the estate must be completed and filed in the court.
8. All special bequests and other distributions must be made by the Personal Representative according to the terms of the Will, unless modified by the court.
An attorney is required to probate a Will in Tennessee
The process of administering an estate of a person who is deceased is a complex legal process involving many steps and procedures that must be completed. Probate procedures are defined in Tennessee law and include time limitations which must be strictly adhered to, unless extended by order of the court. Because of the high degree of legal complexity it is required that the Personal Representative be represented by an attorney licensed to practice law in Tennessee. You are required to retain an attorney who specializes in probate, but it is advisable to engage a lawyer who is experienced in probate and estate law.
There are different types of probate and many other issues involved in the process of supervision and management of the property and debts of a person who is deceased. The attorneys of Purple Law Firm have over 29 years experience in probate law and estate administration in Tennessee. If you are the named Executor of a Last Will and Testament contact our lawyers in order to proceed with probate or administration of the decedent’s estate.