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An Overview of Probate Law in Tennessee
Probate is a court supervised process that can be required after someone dies. Probate gives somebody, typically the closest surviving family member, legal authority to gather the decedent’s assets, pay their debts and taxes, and transfer those assets to the people that were identified to inherit from the estate of the decedent according to the will or a court order, if there was no will.
Probate can take six months to a year, though this can go on longer if there is a fight involving the beneficiaries of the will. This is rare, but it can happen. Having a good probate lawyer in Knoxville, TN that is focused on the probate process itself can help you better understand why such fights may occur.
Not every asset needs to go through probate, just assets that the deceased person owned in their own name need to go through probate. Other assets pass to the new owners without oversight from the probate court. Assets going through probate court are called part of the “probate estate”.
Some common examples of assets that aren’t part of the probate estate:
Learn More About Tennessee Probate
After a person passes away, what happens to their estate and their assets is not always clear. If they did not create a will or other type of estate plan, it may seem like their estate simply hangs in limbo. This is not the case, however, and each state, like Tennessee, has its own probate process when a person passes away without an estate plan. When a person passes away and they have a will, you can also expect their estate to go through probate, and the court will do its best to ensure the decedent’s last wishes are honored.
What really happens after a person dies and they did not have an estate plan?
Things can become tricky when a person passes away without a will. Although their estate goes through probate and a court makes decisions on it, the people the decedent loved and cared for the most may have no more a right to get something than another family member does. Dying without a will is known as dying intestate, and when this happens, their property will most likely pass on to their closest family member. This is often going to be their spouse or their children, including adopted children. Similarly, if the decedent was unmarried and does not have children, a court will move on to passing property to siblings and parents. This process continues until the court is unable to find other relatives.
What is required to make a will legal?
For a will to be legal in the state of Tennessee, you must:
In some instances, it will also be valid for a person to write a will by hand (also known as a holographic will) and it will be valid to have an oral will. It will be up to the state to accept either type of will.
Is it possible to skip the probate process altogether?
It is possible, and when you are considering your estate planning options, your probate lawyer in Knoxville, Tennessee may recommend you create a revocable living trust instead of a will. A revocable living trust will be able to encompass all of your estate planning needs and will thus be able to avoid the probate process.
Talk to your probate lawyer in Knoxville, TN today if you have questions about what goes through probate court. Carpenter & Lewis PLLC has four lawyers, with varying educations and memberships. You can find a probate lawyer Knoxville, TN that you like that suits you and your case. Every lawyer has a different background, and you might connect with a specific lawyer in the firm because of their background, and that is okay.
For a consultation with one of the probate attorneys at Carpenter & Lewis, please call (865) 690-4997 or you may prefer to send an e-mail to: [email protected] Consultations are by appointment only.
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Mary Ellen Nichols
10413 Kingston Pike, Suite 200
Knoxville, Tennessee 37922
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