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Murfreesboro Probate Lawyer

Our probate and estate lawyers have an active practice in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee. With a dedicated inheritance practice we are able to offer efficient and professional services at a reasonable cost. We understand that losing a loved one should is difficult so we try to make the inheritance process as stress free as possible. To help you understand what is involved in distributing an estate we have set forth some basic information about the requirements of probating a Will in Murfreesboro. If you need more information or would like for us to help with an estate issue please contact us today to discuss your needs.

Understanding Probate

Although the thought of “probate” can be a little intimidating it is usually a fairly smooth and easy process. To help take away some of the mystery of Probate we have set forth below some basic information about the process.

What does Probate mean?

Probate is a process supervised by the court and typically gives the surviving spouse or other relatives the legal authority to collected the deceased love one’s assets, allows them to pay debts and taxes and transfer any assets to the family members or loved ones who may inherit them. It is basically a way to wrap up a decedent’s earthly financial affairs and distribute their inheritance.

How does the Probate process work?

If the loved one that passed away left a will, probate begins when the person who is the executor of the will brings the original and signed will to the county clerk’s office in the county where the deceased loved one lived. The court then issues this person “letters testamentary”, which means that this person now has the authority to take over assets. If there is not a will, typically a spouse or adult child will ask the court to be appointed as administrator and then court then issues “letters of administration.” The executor or administrator is the representative of the estate and has authority over any assets that go through the probate process. Typically, this person will open a checking account for the estate and will put money from the deceased loved one’s accounts in it. They will then use these funds to pay estate expenses. A taxpayer identification number is required to be obtained by the IRS before the account is allowed to be opened.

If the deceased loved one had a will, it must prove has valid in court. If it was signed in front of two witnesses and self-authenticated then the will can be presented in court without any witnesses. If it wasn’t “self-authenticated” then one of the witnesses must come to court or submit a sworn statement to the court about the will being valid. If the will had no witnesses but it has been signed and is completely in the handwriting of the deceased, this is known as a “holographic will." In order to prove that it is valid, two witnesses must testify that the handwriting is authentic.

One a personal representative has been appointed; this person is required to notify any creditors that they are aware of. This information may be found in the deceased love one’s financial records, tax returns or checkbooks. The court clerk also will publish a death notice in the local newspaper. When the creditors receive notice of probate hearings they typically have four to twelve months to make a claim. Often, however, the claims will be submitted informally and representative will pay them.

The representative has sixty days to do the following tasks:

  • Turn in an inventory of the assets of the deceased person that must go through probate, unless the will states that an inventory does not need to be filed or all beneficiaries agree that it’s not required.
  • Notify everyone who stands to inherit under the terms of the will or state law.
  • File a Request for Release with TennCare, the state Medicaid agency. A release is proof that the agency won’t seek reimbursement from the estate for nursing home or home care received by the deceased person.

It is also the representative’s responsibility to file final state and federal income taxes for the deceased loved one. Income tax returns may also been needed for the estate.

In what situations is Probate not Necessary?

Only assets that the deceased loved one has in their name only have to go through probate. Any other assets go to the new owners without probate. Some of the assets that are not part of probate may include but are not limited to:

  • Property that another person owns as well- such as if a home, bank account, or other asset is owned by a spouse or another relative. When the deceased loved one dies, the other owner will take over ownership.
  • If real estate is owned by more than one person- such as if a spouse owns the real estate as well, they would take over ownership of it when a loved one dies.
  • If a bank account goes to the payable upon death beneficiary
  • If any assets or securities have transfer on death beneficiaries
  • Life insurance policies with beneficiaries
  • Retirement accounts with beneficiaries
  • Any living trust assets
Are there any other methods used besides Probate?

In Tennessee estate that are small, such as if the estate is no higher than $25,000 not including real estate, the probate process can be easier and it can be used to transfer all the deceased loved one’s assets except real estate.

How can a Tennessee Probate Lawyer help me?

There are many things to do and consider when probate is involved. It can be a long and complicated process especially if you are still mourning your loss. This is why it is important to contact one of our compassionate and experienced Tennessee Probate lawyers with the Higgins Firm. We understand that this is a hard time for you and we will work through the process with you to make it as easy as possible.

Contact us online or call 800.705.2121 for your free consultation to discuss your legal needs and options.