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What is the Purpose of Naming a Trustee in a Tennessee Will?

Posted on Aug 24 2014 9:59PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

A lot of people do not completely understand the different positions that are often identified in a Tennessee will.  One such position that is identified in many wills is the position of a trustee.  Often wills provide for assets to be paid to certain individuals including minor children.  This often occurs when people designate a minor child as a direct beneficiary in a will (such as to a son or daughter).  Or money or property can be left to adult children but if those adult children are deceased when the person who wrote the will dies, then potentially their minor children (grandchildren) could obtain assets (this is often done when there is a per stirpes designation in a will). 


For this reason, it is almost always important to name a trustee in your will even if a trustee is unlikely to ever actually be needed.  The trustee is the person who would hold the money or assets on behalf of the minor individual until the time the assets are distributed to the beneficiary at the appropriate time.  This is a very important position.  Essentially this is the individual who makes all decisions about when the minor children can have access to any of the money left to them in trust.  Oftentimes, a minor child will still need money to be used for their benefit like to buy them clothing, school supplies, a car or to pay for their education.  This should be an individual that you absolutely trust. 


Often in wills a trust that is established for minor children or minor grandchildren will terminate at a certain age.  Many people provide that the trust will terminate once that person reaches 25 or 30 years old.  I recommend that you do not allow the trust to terminate at 18 years of age because in my opinion 18 year olds should not be getting a large chunk of money.  It is best to keep the trust active for an extended period of time beyond age 18 so the money is not squandered.  When the child reaches a more advanced age, they are more lik...

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TAGS: Trustee, Wills Comments [0]

After Someone Dies What Happens to Their Creditor Debt in Tennessee? Who is Responsible to Pay the Debt?

Posted on Aug 9 2014 2:51PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

An individual who dies who owes money to creditors is largely still responsible for that debt after they are deceased.  Specifically, their estate owes the money to the creditors.  Many people are confused about this.  It is important to note that if nobody else was a co-signor or legally responsible for the debt, then family members, even spouses are not necessarily responsible for the debt.  Be very careful when receiving creditor collection calls after your loved ones passing because often they will try to get others to pay the debt of the deceased – often these individuals are not actually legally responsible for this debt.  


Required Notice to Creditors:


If a probate estate is opened up for a deceased person, then the creditors are put on notice of the opening of the estate and they have a certain amount of time (generally 4 months) to file a claim against the estate. See T.C.A. § 30-2-306.  This is a formal requirement and requires an actual filing of the claim in the Tennessee probate estate.  Any and all known creditors must be specifically sent notice of the opening of the estate. See T.C.A. § 30-2-306.  Additionally, an advertisement must be placed in a newspaper on two consecutive weeks to put additional creditors on notice. See T.C.A. § 30-2-306.  If the creditors do not file a claim with the estate within the appropriate statutory time period then their claim can be completely waived.  Additionally, if a probate estate is not opened up in a timely fashion then creditors can actually open up an estate in order to make sure they collect on the amount of money that is owed to the creditor.  Of course this only makes sense if there are actual assets in the estate.  


Creditor Claims Are Extinguished After 12 Months Post-Death:


One other very important thing to know is that if an estate is not opened up until greater than 12 months after death, then you are not required to provide a notice of creditors and the creditor claims against the estate are considered to be expired (except for TennCare).  For this reason, it is extremely important that if you have a claim aga...

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TAGS: Probate Process, Creditor claims, TennCare, Notice Requirements, Tennessee Probate Law Comments [0]

In Tennessee What is an Executor/Executrix, What Do They Do and Who Should you Select?

Posted on Aug 3 2014 9:54PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

An executor or executrix is someone that you designate in your will to administer your estate.  Often times, this individual is now called your “personal representative”.  This is a very important position and you need to be very careful in selecting who you want to handle these duties.  Basically, you need to make sure that you select someone for this position that you absolutely trust.  The most common selections for people to serve in this role are (1) spouse and (2) a child (once the children are older).


The executor or executrix is ultimately the individual responsible to move forward with the probate of your will, if necessary.  This individual is required to comply with Tennessee law and deadlines for administering your estate.  This includes putting creditors on notice, filing appropriate paperwork with the Probate Court and eventually distributing your assets as you desire in your will.  In almost all circumstances I recommend that an executor or executrix in Tennessee should hire an attorney to assist them in these matters to make sure that they comply with their duties under Tennessee law.


It is important to note that there are many statutes that govern the responsibilities of an executor or executrix.  This is why a Tennessee attorney should be consulted to ensure compliance with those statutes.  If Tennessee law is not complied with, the executor or executrix can be found personally responsible for any losses or inappropriate distributions from the estate.  This can sometime be a very large amount of money.  It is simply not worth it to handle these duties without representation.  That is the classic “penny wise but pound foolish” scenario. 


Follow me on Twitter at @jasonalee for updates from the Tennessee Wills and Estates blog.
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TAGS: Probate Process, Executor/Executrix, Tennessee Probate Law Comments [0]

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