In Tennessee when are you required to go through a court supervised probate process to handle an estate?

Posted on Feb 18 2013 1:56PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

One of the most important questions when considering how to handle a deceased person's estate is whether a formal court monitored probate process is required.  T.C.A. § 30-1-101 provides that "no person shall presume to enter upon the administration of any deceased person's estate until the person has obtained letters of administration or letters testamentary."  Essentially, this statute prohibits the administration of an estate outside of the formal court probate process for someone who died who had assets that are commonly referred to as "probate assets". 


The next question therefore is what "probate assets" would likely require the formal probate administration process that is required under Tennessee law.  Examples of key "probate assets" are as follows:


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 anther individual listed on the title as "tenants in common".

It is very important when someone dies to carefully evaluate whether the court administrated probate process is required under Tennessee law in order to properly distribute the assets of the deceased.  This is where the advice of a probate attorney is very valuable to handle your specific situation.  Contact me if you want to discuss this or any other issue involving the probate of an estate.

TAGS: Probate Process, Life Insurance, Retirement plans - 401k etc., Real Estate, Probate Assets, Tennessee Probate Law
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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. Contact Jason at 615-540-1004 or jlee@burrowlee.com for an initial consultation on wills estate planning and probate issues.

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Tennessee Wills and Estates Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
611 Commerce Street, Suite 2603
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com