Estate Law FAQ's

Do I need an attorney to probate an estate in Tennessee?

It is very important to hire an attorney to handle the probate of any estate in Tennessee. It can be a very complicated process that requires detailed knowledge of Tennessee Probate law and court procedures. There are many Tennessee statutes that mandate required deadlines that must be complied with in order to properly probate an estate.

In Tennessee what county do you file a petition to probate a will for a deceased?

The short answer to this question is that a petition to probate a will should be filed in the deceased individual's usual county of residence at the time of death. If the deceased individual had multiple fixed places of residence in multiple counties, then the petition to probate the will can be filed in any of those counties. See T.C.A. § 32-2-101

What are probate assets in Tennessee?

Probate assets are assets in an estate that most likely require the formal probate administration process. This usually requires the hiring of a probate attorney to assist in handling the probate process.

Probate assets include the following:

  1. Any 401k, IRA, or any other kind of retirement plan that designates the estate of the decedent as a beneficiary.
  2. Any life insurance policy of the decedent that lists the estate as a beneficiary.
  3. Any asset that is titled in the decedent's name without any designation of a beneficiary or without joint ownership with another individual.
  4. Any asset that is titled in the decedent's name that has another individual listed on the title as "tenants in common".

What are some of the reasons to have a will in Tennessee?

To try to reduce the likelihood for disagreements and disputes among family members, friends and potential beneficiaries/heirs after your death.

To decide who will be the legal guardian for your children after your death.

To decide where your assets and money go after your death.

What does it mean to die "intestate" under Tennessee law?

"Intestate" simply means that someone dies without a will. As a result, their estate passes pursuant to Tennessee statutes governing intestate estates. It is very important for people to not die intestate (without a will) so they can make the decisions about how their estate will be handled.

If you die intestate then the State of Tennessee or another state will make all of the decisions about your estate including:

  1. Who gets your assets?
  2. Who becomes the guardian of your children?
  3. Who is the Administrator of your estate?
  4. Who is the Trustee of your estate if any trust is created for minor children?

These are serious decisions that should be made by you, not the State.

What is the priority for who should be considered to be appointed as a conservator for a "disabled person"?

T.C.A. § 34-3-103 provides a list of those individuals that the court should consider for appointment as the conservator for the "disabled person." This statute provides the following list of priority:

  1. The person or persons designated in a writing signed by the alleged disabled person;
  2. The spouse of the disabled person;
  3. Any child of the disabled person;
  4. Closest relative or relatives of the disabled person;
  5. Other person or persons.

Who is qualified to make a will under Tennessee law?

T.C.A. § 32-1-102 provides that "any person of sound mind eighteen (18) years of age or older may make a will." As a result, for a person to make a valid will they must be of sound mind and at least 18 years of age.