Probate is the transfer of the property of a deceased person to the beneficiaries named in a will. If a will exists, the probate courts determine its validity. Debts owed by the deceased person are paid from the estate and the remainder is distributed according to the terms of the will. In Tennessee, the probate court also presides over guardianships, name changes, emancipations and legitimations.
In the state of Tennessee, if a person dies without a will, the courts will determine how their property is to be distributed. If the deceased was married and did not have children, the estate becomes the sole property of the surviving spouse. If a person is married and has children, the estate becomes the property of the surviving spouse and children. Surviving children will inherit the estate if a person is unmarried. Surviving parents inherit the estate of an unmarried person who does not have children. In the event that the deceased was preceded in death by both parents, surviving siblings will inherit the estate. If there are no surviving relatives, the estate will become the property of the state of Tennessee.
A will states how property is to be distributed to the deceased person's beneficiaries. An executor oversees the estate and ensures that the terms of the will are carried out. It should include provisions for the care and guardianship of minor children. Persons over the age of 18 of sound mind can make a will in the state of Tennessee. It must be signed in front of a witness.