Nashville Probate Attorney

Probate is the legal process sometimes required after someone dies to grant legal authority to gather and transfer the deceased person’s assets, as well as to pay his or her debts and taxes. If the deceased did not nominate this person when living, it’s up to a court to decide whose responsibility this is – usually a surviving spouse or close family member.

Tennessee’s probate proceedings can take six months to one year or longer if parties argue about who will have legal authority or if the deceased had particularly complex assets or a large amount of debt. The probate attorneys at Larry R. Williams, PLLC, have extensive experience in tactfully handling matters of designating legal authority in the event of a death in the family, and we work to do what’s in the best interest of everyone involved.

What Constitutes Probate Estate?

Not all assets need to pass through probate – only those that the deceased person owned entirely in his or her own name. Types of assets that are generally not part of probate estate include:

  • Joint accounts or joint assets, where one owner still survives.
  • Payable-on-death (POD) bank accounts that automatically pass to the beneficiary.
  • Transfer-on-death (TOD) assets that automatically pass to the beneficiary.
  • Life insurance policies or annuities that name a beneficiary.
  • Retirement accounts the deceased designated to a beneficiary.
  • Assets in the name of living trustees.

In any situation where the deceased had already named a trustee or beneficiary, that asset will not be subject to probate. If the estate is small (totally less than $25,000 without counting real estate), Tennessee courts provide an alternative to regular probate, that is an expedited version where the court can authorize an executer to distribute the assets.

If the deceased person left a will, probate only goes as far as to have the named executor deposit the original will to the county clerk. If there is no will, a family member will ask the court to take the position of administrator to have legal authority over the distribution of any assets that go through probate.

What Are the Estate’s Creditor Obligations? 

The court will post a notice of death in the deceased person’s county to give creditors the opportunity to notify the executor or administrator about unpaid debts. One of the primary reasons for probate in Tennessee is to ensure the right financial sources pay a deceased person’s debts in full. Creditors have the right to file a claim to receive payments, and any interested person involved may file an objection to that claim. An administrator must pay the claim, unless the court rules it as invalid.

There are two tax consequences of death – filing the deceased person’s final tax return and establishing the estate as a new tax entity. The IRS may require a personal representative to file certain tax forms for the deceased person depending on the extenuating circumstances.

Nashville Probate Attorneys You Can Trust

At Larry R. Williams, PLLC, our attorneys understand that the death of a loved one can cause shock and considerable pain. That’s why we take care to treat every probate situation with compassion and respect for the surviving party. We will discuss our fees for legal representation with our clients prior to any probate litigations. Our fees are always priced appropriately, under the specifications of Tennessee law.

To work with a probate attorney who will make the entire process easier, more cost-effective, and more efficient, contact the Nashville law firm of Larry R. Williams, PLLC, today. We’ll set you up with one of our representatives who will be readily available should you choose to go through probate with us. Call our local Nashville office for a free consultation: (615) 256-8880.