What is probate?
Estate administration, commonly known as probate, is required when a person dies owning one or more property interests (in real property, small businesses, investment securities or bank accounts) that are titled in that person’s name. The goal is to make sure the property interests pass to the proper person or persons.
Our attorneys have experience with estate administration in courts throughout Middle Tennessee. The court proceeding generally takes six to eighteen months to complete. There are three phases in the process.
- Probate. Probate of a will is the process of proving (identifying and validating) the last will and testament of the decedent. When the probate court proves the will, letters testamentary are issued to the executor. When a will is contested, the court hears testimony from all interested parties before deciding whether the document is the decedent’s will or not. We handle both uncontested and contested probate proceedings. If the decedent had no will, the court appoints an administrator for the estate.
- Creditor claims. Creditors have four months after notice of the court proceeding to file a claim. Tenn Care, the IRS and the Tennessee Department of Revenue have one year after the death of the decedent to file a claim. Valid claims must be paid; doubtful claims can be challenged.
- Distribution. After the claims period has ended and all valid claims have been satisfied, the executor or administrator distributes the estate. If there is a will, distribution is made according to the terms of the will. If there is no will, distribution is made according to the laws of intestate succession among the decedent’s next of kin.
Does every will have to be probated?
Sometimes probate is unnecessary. Sometimes probate requires less than full administration. More often than not, some form of probate administration is required to transfer assets from the decedent to the beneficiaries. We have experience with estates of all sizes and will guide you safely through the process.
The best time to contact us about the death of a loved one is whenever you are ready. Please contact us for free resources. We are happy to schedule a consultation at any time.