An executor of an estate is responsible for handling taxes, settling debts and distributing property to beneficiaries. Depending on the circumstances, the executor could also have to file court paperwork and undergo probate.
Probate laws differ by state. If you are the executor of an estate in Tennessee, you should familiarize yourself with the state’s probate process.
Probate court basics
People with estate plans often name a specific individual to act as the executor. If there is no will, often a loved one of the deceased, such as a spouse or adult child, takes on the role of managing the estate. As executor, you must file the necessary paperwork with the court to begin the probate process. The court then validates the will or appoints an administrator. Next, you should open a bank account for your loved one’s assets and begin paying any expenses associated with the estate. You also need to notify beneficiaries, creditors and the general public.
Simplified probate options
Tennessee offers a simplified probate process for estates that are less than $50,000 in value. This does not include jointly held assets such as a shared family home. To initiate this process, you should file an affidavit and submit the necessary documents, including a death certificate, to the court. Simplified probate can help you administer your loved one’s estate in a more streamlined, less time-consuming way.
In addition, certain assets do not need to undergo probate. For example, living trusts, life insurance payments and retirement accounts can avoid probate if the deceased named beneficiaries for those assets.
Although the probate process can be lengthy and complex, Tennessee law allows options that help executors administer estates.