Image by Vlanka via Pixabay
The hard truth is that when someone passes away in Tennessee, their assets often end up in the long and difficult process that is probate. Inheriting a house can be challenging for anyone when things go smoothly, but when probate is involved, it all gets much more difficult.
If you’ve inherited a house that has been thrust into the probate process, you’ll want to know as much as you can about what will happen and when you need to take action. Knowledge is power if you’re in probate in Tennessee.
Dying without a will in Tennessee
If you die without a will in Tennessee, your heirs may not be able to inherit any of your property. This is because the law considers estates to be “frozen” at the moment of death, and all assets and liabilities are transferred automatically to your closest living relative.
Things transfer automatically to your spouse if you are married or to your parent if you’re not. Unless there is an agreement between the beneficiaries regarding who gets what, the estate will eventually go through probate court and be divided up according to state law. This can result in very messy legal battles over which family members get what – and it’s often impossible for everyone involved to agree on something that important.
If you want to avoid this drama altogether, make sure you have a valid will before you die. This should be done in conjunction with a Tennessee estate attorney. Though it can seem like a hassle and an added cost, in fact this will save money in the long term. At the same time, you might also want to consider purchasing life insurance to cover any final costs that could also hurt your beneficiaries.
The money isn’t the most important thing, though. It’s the peace of mind that you will give to your family that makes the most difference here. Nobody wants to go through probate court when they’re grieving the loss of a loved one.
What exactly is probate?
Probate is when there are no named beneficiaries of real estate or other property that is held by a person when they die. This can include a bank account, a house in Tennessee, belongings, and all other personal property. Even a small estate is still subject to probate.
When a person dies without a sworn statement leaving the entirety of their possessions to an individual, then the deceased person will have left their family with the potential to go into probate. A surviving spouse or other decedent will automatically be in line for any property, once creditors and the IRS take out whatever might be owed to them as well.
What probate looks like under Tennessee Law
Image by Congerdesign via Pixabay
Probate is the process of administering a person’s estate after their death. It includes all legal proceedings necessary to settle an individual’s financial affairs, protect their property from creditors, and provide for the person’s final wishes.
Under Tennessee law, probate consists of four stages:
At the start, the court approves a temporary administrator.
During this stage, the court determines who gets what assets and how they are distributed.
3 – Recording
This stage is to document the settlement of your estate in case it goes through litigation.
4 – Closure
This is a formal ceremony at which all loose ends are tied up
Each stage has specific requirements that must be met in order to proceed. Administration requires proof of death, identification of your assets, appointment of a personal representative to administer your estates, and filing requirements with the county courthouse. Distribution requires figuring out who owns what property and distributing it according to those rights using either intestacy or mandatory testamentary provisions. Recording ensures that all relevant documents regarding your estate are properly filed with the court system so that anyone trying to litigate against you will have difficulty doing so successfully. Finally, closure marks the end of probate proceedings – it provides assurance that everything has been settled correctly and there is no risk remaining concerning your loved one’s financial affairs.
If you’re interested in having someone handle your family’s probate matter while you’re still alive or if something happens after you pass away that makes taking care of things more complicated than expected, make sure that you reach out to a real estate attorney or an estate attorney to make sure that you have beneficiaries named.
Understanding who’s in charge of probate in Tennessee
In Tennessee, the court will name an executor if there’s not a will. The executor is in charge of figuring out who among the decedent family members and relatives will be able to take control of the property. In Tennessee, the executor is generally appointed by the court.
Estate planning or a last will and testament can prevent all of this. In that case, the court won’t name an executor, but instead someone might be named in the will itself.
How Long Does Probate Take?
Image by Manfred Kain via Pixabay
You can expect the probate process in Tennessee to take around a year to a year and a half. Inheritance is built into state law, and even with an affidavit saying that someone gave a verbal will or some other semi-legal certificate, there is no guarantee that you can avoid probate without a properly executed last will and testament.
It’s possible for potential inheritors to petition the court once they have a death certificate when someone has passed away, but the court clerk will likely send it on to probate court unless there’s a named beneficiary. The legal process is unfortunately a long one in Tennessee.
When probate is necessary
Image by Pasha 1000 via Pixabay
If probate is necessary, you should contact a probate attorney to get legal advice. The process in Tennessee is challenging for anyone, and the decedent’s estate will also be subject to taxes and other claims. If you aren’t sure about what to do, then contacting a professional to deal with the decedent’s estate is essential.
Estate assets will be part of the probate case, and rival heirs can also ask for their piece of the total value of financial accounts and other parts of the estate’s assets. Estate taxes are also part of the mix.
If you’re going through the probate process after a loved one’s passing in Tennessee, be sure to create a will so that your loved ones won’t have to go through this same process in the future.