Probate Attorney in Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Probate is a court-supervised process that is often required to settle the final affairs of the deceased. In Tennessee, probate provides the surviving spouse and other close relatives the legal authority to gather the assets of the deceased, pay taxes and debts, and eventually transfer assets to inheritors.
With more than 40 years of combined legal experience, our knowledgeable attorneys at McCarter | East PLLC can assist beneficiaries or fiduciaries with all stages of will probate or trust administration. We proudly serve clients throughout Murfreesboro and Berry Hill, Tennessee.
What is Probate?
Probate can be described as a court-supervised process whereby all the deceased person's assets are assessed, debts and taxes are paid, and inheritance determinations are made. In Tennessee, the probate process often takes between six months and a year. Unfortunately, court supervision may be necessary when family members, close relatives, or creditors are hostile over the remaining estate of the deceased which can prolong the process even more.
The following types of assets may not be part of the probate estate:
Assets named in a living trust
Jointly held property such as a home or bank account
Bank accounts that name a beneficiary
Assets that are registered in transfer-on-death form
Life insurance policies, annuities, and proceeds
Funds in retirement accounts where a beneficiary is named
The Probate Process in Tennessee
The probate process starts when the executor, as named in the will, deposits the original, signed will in the probate office of the county clerk. If there is no will, the court appoints someone (an adult child or surviving spouse) to serve as the personal representative of the estate.
The probate court will issue a "letter of testamentary" to the executor or personal representative and give the person the legal authority to act on the estate's behalf. The executor will then have authority over all the assets that go through probate.
Next, the executor or personal representative will publish a notice of probate in the city where the deceased lived, and notify every individual who stands to inherit under the terms of the will or state law. Creditors will have up to four months after the publication date to make a claim.
Within 60 days, the executor will file an inventory of the estate's assets with the court. After paying all taxes and creditors, the executor will then file a petition to close the probate.
Lastly, the court will issue an order that will allow the remaining properties to be distributed to beneficiaries. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, the executor may be entitled to a reasonable fee for the services offered.
The Small Estates Act
Under the Small Estates Act in Tennessee, heirs are able to obtain the property of the deceased without probate if the deceased left a will but the value of their estate is less than $50,000. The Act specifies that the estate consists of any personal property (moveable goods) individually held by the decedent on the date of their death. In this case, personal property does not include real estate or any property that is held jointly with right of survivorship.
Although very similar to probate, the small estate process is generally simpler, less formal, and quicker. In addition, the cost is usually much less than probate.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
According to recent statistics, 55% percent of Americans die without a will or estate plan. That means that the majority of a decedent’s loved ones must trudge through the probate process.
Our successful team of attorneys at McCarter | East PLLC is fully prepared to provide comprehensive guidance and advocacy on all matters of probate. We provide compassionate counsel and aggressive litigation strategies. Call McCarter | East PLLC today to speak with our team of knowledgeable Tennessee probate attorneys.
Experienced Probate Attorneys in Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Probate can be emotional and complex, but you don't have to face this process alone. Contact McCarter | East PLLC today and let our experienced attorneys help you navigate key decisions and guide you through the process. Based in Murfreesboro with our office just a stone's throw away from the courthouse, we are proud to serve clients throughout Murfreesboro and Berry Hill, Tennessee. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your case.