A very common question that our clients will ask us is what are the costs associated with probate when you die in Tennessee? Well, determining the amount of probate costs are a very difficult question to answer. Each and every probate matter is different with different heirs, legal issues, complexities, and assets. In addition, there are no set probate attorney’s fees in Tennessee. A Tennessee attorney can charge any “reasonable fee” for administering a probate matter for a client’s family. The amount of the fee can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to several thousand dollars depending upon all the specific issues involved in the probate matter. However, it is not unheard of for a probate matter to cost $20,000 or more when the entire case has been completed.
In addition to the attorney fees, there are usually court costs, executor compensation, and miscellaneous other costs that may have to be incurred as a result of the probate matter. For instance, there is also no set executor fee that the executor of an estate may take as compensation for settling the estate. Once again, an executor may charge a “reasonable fee.” However, the executor will have to petition the Court, and the Court will take into account the size of the estate before issuing an order for the fees to be paid to the executor for settling the estate.
Also, there will be court costs when you take a matter through probate. There is always a cost to file the initial probate matter with the clerk, there will be court costs when any additional filings are required, and there will of course be additional fees if any hearings have to be scheduled because parties are in disagreement.
Therefore, it is easy to see how probate costs can very easily exceed $20,000 in cost when it is all said and done. In addition, the length of probate can range anywhere from several months to several years to complete. The reason for the length is because there will be multiple court filings, releases will need to be obtained from the TennCare Bureau regarding Medicaid reimbursement and the Department of Revenue regarding outstanding tax obligations, and if hearings have to be scheduled because of disagreements among the parties to the matter, it will be delayed even further.It is because of the unknown length and cost entailed with probate, that a lot of our clients choose to avoid probate altogether. As I stated in previous blog articles, probate is the process of transferring assets to your loved ones after you die. However, if you do not own any assets in your name when you die, then your assets will not have to go through probate. Many of our clients choose this option of making things simple for their families by establishing a revocable living trust, and then transferring all of their assets into the name of that trust, so that the entire probate process is avoided when they are gone. Further information regarding revocable living trusts can be found in our other blog articles.