Probate

Have you recently lost a loved one? Are you trying to determine what the next steps are to sort out their estate? Have you been named as the Personal Representative or Executor in a Last Will and Testament and are wondering what to do next? What if there is no Last Will and Testament? Our probate team can help you navigate all these questions and determine which type of probate action works best for you.

Muniment of Title

A Last Will and Testament is required for this type of probate action. Limited court proceedings are required and it typically takes a few weeks from start to finish. This type of probate action is most useful when only a limited number of assets pass through the probate estate (ie: a single piece of real estate or account). It is important to note that this type of action is available only if there are no known creditors of the estate.

Small Estate Administration

No Last Will and Testament is required for this type of probate action. There is a 45 day waiting period from the date of the decedent’s death. After the 45 days have passed, limited court proceedings are required and it typically takes a few weeks from start to finish. It is important to note there is a value cap of $50,000.00 and this action cannot be used for any real estate the decedent died owning.

Affidavit of Inheritance

No Last Will and Testament is required for this type of probate action. This type of probate action typically takes a few weeks. If real property is involved, limited court proceedings are required. If only motor vehicles are involved, no court proceedings are required. Instead, filings submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles are used to transfer ownership.

Beneficiary Designations

No Last Will and Testament is required, but multiple copies of the death certificate are likely needed. There’s no required court proceedings and this type of probate action typically takes a few weeks.

Full Probate

Common Form

This is the most commonly used type of probate action. If there is a Last Will and Testament, Letters of Testamentary are issued to the person or entity named as the Personal Representative or Executor in the body of the document. If there is no Last Will and Testament, Letters of Administration are issued. These letters authorize the named party to take action on behalf of the estate. The first 60 days after the Letters have been issued are critical because the named party must take a number of required steps, like collecting and protecting assets of the estate, giving proper notice to creditors, including TennCare, and the beneficiaries or heirs at law of the estate within that period of time. An inventory may need to be filed with the court and affidavits of such notices being given must be filed with the court. If there are creditor claims, they must be assessed to determine if they are valid; if valid, creditor claims must be paid. Assets can then be distributed according to the terms of the Last Will and Testament or intestate law where there is no Last Will and Testament. After all valid claims have been paid and the assets distributed, a Final Order will be submitted to the court where attorney fees are approved and the estate is officially closed. This is the most involved type of probate action and typically takes several months or longer, depending on the complexity of the estate.

Solemn Form

This type of action is utilized where a challenge to the validity of the Last Will and Testament is expected. It requires a court hearing to open the probate estate and the witnesses to the Last Will and Testament must appear in person to testify as to the validity of the Last Will and Testament. All interested parties must be notified of the petition to open probate and have the ability to appear at the hearing. After the probate estate is opened, the process mirrors what is outlined for common form probates.

At Elder Law of East Tennessee we can help in many ways. Contact us to ask questions or to schedule a consultation, and let’s get started today.

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