A common questions that we will receive from individuals and families contacting our office concerns the probate process is Tennessee. The most common questions that we receive concern the length of time it takes for an estate to go through Probate and how much will it cost in legal fees and other costs? First, probate is the process of the transferring of all of the assets that you own after your death to the surviving family members that you leave behind. In addition, probate is also the payment of any valid debts and claims against your estate that may come up after your death.
Although, this may sound simple enough, the entire probate process can last anywhere between six months to up to two years or longer to complete. In addition, the costs to handle a probate matter when you consider all the attorney fees, court costs, and all the miscellaneous other costs can total around $20,000 or more when it is all said and done.
The probate process begins with submitting the Last Will and Testament to the probate court after the person has died. This is referred to as dying testate. However, if you die without a Last Will and Testament, you still have to go through probate, but the State of Tennessee has written a Will for you and this is referred to as dying intestate. Once the Will is admitted to probate and there is no one contesting the validity of the Will, the executor will be confirmed. At this point, the executor will be able to go to the various banks and financial institutions to access the bank accounts and investment accounts so that those accounts can be closed. The process of simply being confirmed as the executor of the will can take around four months to complete.
In addition to accessing the bank accounts, you will also need to pay any valid debts and claims against the estate. This can include such things as credit cards and other unpaid bills that may need to be paid out of the proceeds of the estate. In addition, the executor will have to file an inventory with the probate court that includes a list of all of the assets and valid claims / debts of the estate. Also, the executor will need to receive permission from the court before spending any money from the estate, paying any bills, or distributing any funds to any of the beneficiaries.
Finally, the executor will need to obtain a release from TennCare stating that Medicaid is not owed any money from the estate. This is the state agency that is responsible for Medicaid in Tennessee. In addition, the department of revenue will need to be contacted to ensure that no taxes are owed by the estate.
As you can see, the process of settling an estate in Tennessee is not as easy as it sounds, and is in fact quite complicated. Just imagine how complicated the process listed above would be if issues come up during the process, which they always do.