T.C.A. § 30-2-317 provides a list showing the priority for any claim or demand against the estate of a deceased individual in Tennessee. Claims and demands against an estate are divided into certain categories and the statue provides the order in which the claims or demands are to be paid. Specifically, T.C.A. § 30-2-317 provides a priority for claims and demands as follows:
(a) All claims or demands against the estate of any deceased person shall be divided into the following classifications, which shall have priority in the order shown:
(1) First: Costs of administration, including, but not limited to, premiums on the fiduciary bonds and reasonable compensation to the personal representative and the personal representative's counsel;
(2) Second: Reasonable funeral expenses;
(3) Third: Taxes and assessments imposed by the federal or any state government or subdivision of the federal or any state government, including claims by the Bureau of TennCare pursuant to § 71-5-116; and
(4) Fourth: All other demands that may be filed as aforementioned within four (4) months after the date of notice to creditors.
Category number four is a catch-all category for any claims that are filed with the probate court for the debts of the deceased individual within four months of the notice provided to the creditors. This statute also provides specific instructions to the personal representative of how to pay the claims according to the specific priority found in the statute. T.C.A. § 30-2-317(b) provides as follows:
(b) All demands against the estate shall be paid by the personal representative in the order in which they are classed, and no demand of one class shall be paid until the claims of all prior classes are satisfied or provided for; and if there are not sufficient assets to pay the whole of any one class, the claims in that class shall be paid pro rata.
It is very important for the personal representative to be aware of the rules pertaining to the priority of payment for any claim or demand against the estate. This is where a probate attorney can be very helpful to guide and advise the personal representative in this process so Tennessee probate administration law is complied with during the administration of the estate.