Probate of Wills

“Our Abogados Help Your Family Navigate the Complex Probate Process”

Memphis Probate Abogado

When someone dies in Tennessee, that person’s family, guardian, or court-appointed administrator must begin the process of administering the person’s affairs soon thereafter. This administration sometimes occurs with the oversight of the court through what is known as probate. There are many complexities and potential difficulties that can arise throughout the probate process. A Tennessee probate attorney can help you minimize these difficulties and successfully navigate what can be a confusing probate process.

Douglass & Runger, Licenciados en Leyes, help Memphis residents as well as citizens throughout Tennessee who have questions or are facing difficulties concerning the probate process. Contact them for professional and personalized attention and counsel.

How Does the Probate Process Work in Tennessee?

When a person dies in Tennessee, certain assets that the deceased had in his or her name alone may need to pass through the probate process. Probate allows a court to exercise supervision over the manner in which the deceased’s assets are distributed, debts and taxes are paid, and affairs concluded. Probate may be necessary whether the deceased died with a valid will in force or whether the deceased died intestate, without a will.  However, not all assets will necessarily pass through probate. In fact, the following assets will generally not pass through probate:

Proceeds from a life insurance policy or retirement account

Generally do not pass through probate as the policy generally specifies a beneficiary or beneficiaries who are to be paid upon the death of the policyholder.

Living trust assets

That is, assets like real estate or cars that are held in the name of a living trust – generally do not go through probate.

Bank accounts designated as POD (payable on death)

Do not pass through probate as these accounts name a beneficiary or beneficiaries who are to be paid once the account holder dies.

Property held in joint tenancy or joint tenancy by the entirety

In other words, property that is jointly owned by another person besides the deceased does not need to pass through probate. Upon the death of one of the owners, the deceased’s ownership interest in the property is automatically transferred to the surviving owner. This is most often seen where the deceased owned a house with his or her spouse. Upon the deceased’s death, the spouse would receive the deceased’s ownership interest in the home.

The probate process begins once the deceased dies. If he or she had a will in place, that will must be probated – that is, introduced and accepted by the court – within a certain period of time after the person’s death. The person named as the deceased’s executor or administrator typically presents the will to the court. Depending on the will and whether it complied with statutory requirements, there may be legal challenges raised against the admission of the will.

If the person did not have a will, then someone such as a family member or guardian will approach the court after the person’s death and ask to be appointed as administrator over the deceased’s estate.

How the Probate Process Proceeds

Once the deceased’s will has been probated and/or an executor or administrator named, that person is given court authority to handle the deceased’s affairs according to the will or, if none, according to the court’s instructions.  Periodically the administrator must provide the court and any heirs or beneficiaries with updates as to what assets have been distributed and to whom. The administrator must also take steps to notify any potential heirs of the decedent’s death and notify the deceased’s creditors in case they wish to file a claim against the deceased’s estate.

    Seek Help from a Qualified Tennessee Probate Lawyer

    Probate can be a confusing and difficult legal process for those not familiar with its intricacies. The Memphis law firm of Douglass & Runger, Licenciados en Leyes, is ready to assist you throughout this process. Whether you are an executor seeking help in administering an estate or you are an heir seeking to challenge the validity of a relative’s will, contact Douglass & Runger, Licenciados en Leyes at (901) 388-5805 and receive experienced legal counsel from one of our Tennessee probate lawyers.