If someone passes away in Tennessee, their estate goes through a legal process known as probate. Probate involves validating the deceased person’s will, if there is one, and distributing their assets according to the law.
Understanding probate is an important part of the estate planning process.
Validation of the will
The probate process begins when someone, usually an interested party or a family member, files a petition in the appropriate court. If the deceased person left a will, the court validates its authenticity and correct execution. The judge makes sure the person had the mental capacity to make decisions when they wrote the will. If the court deems the will valid, it becomes the legal document guiding asset distribution.
The executor of the estate must inventory and seek appraisal for the deceased person’s assets. You can name the executor in your will or the court will appoint someone to this role. This part of the process establishes the estate’s value for asset distribution to beneficiaries.
Payment of debts and taxes
During probate, the executor must pay outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased person’s estate. These costs may include medical bills, funeral expenses and outstanding loans. The executor must also settle any state and federal taxes owed by the estate before distributing assets to heirs.
After paying all estate expenses and debts, the executor distributes the remaining assets to the heirs and beneficiaries. They must follow the terms outlined in the will.
A 2021 Gallup poll found that 46% of Americans have no will. In this case, intestate succession laws dictate asset distribution among the person’s heirs, usually starting with the spouse and children.
Probate in Tennessee is a structured legal process designed to ensure the fair distribution of a deceased person’s assets. By following the necessary steps, the court provides a framework for a just resolution of the estate.