It’s difficult enough to emotionally deal with the death of a loved one. That said, what follows can also feel overwhelming. For many, it makes sense to speak with an experienced estate law attorney to understand the probate process.
If the term probate sounds foreign to you, you’re not alone. In short, probate refers to the judicial process of validating a will. In Davidson County, all estate matters filed in the Seventh Circuit are handled by the Davidson County Probate Court.
More than likely, you have some questions about probating the will of a loved one. The process must be initiated by the executor or executrix named in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. Generally speaking, the person named is often a surviving spouse, sibling or child of the individual who passed away.
Truth be told, not all wills need to be probated in Tennessee. An attorney with experience in probate law can help you determine whether or not the process is necessary.
Do You Need to Probate a Will?
One of the chief reasons for probating a will is to ensure that the decedent’s wishes are carried out as far as distributing assets and paying debts. Meanwhile, not all wills need to be probated.
The size of the decedent’s estate matters. If an estate’s assets are under $50,000, it is possible to file a Small Estate affidavit, which eliminates the need for probate. This document cannot be filed until at least 45 days after the decedent’s death.
There are additional exclusions that may negate the need for probating a will. This is because not all assets are subject to probate. For example, a husband and wife own their home together. The legal term for this is joint tenancy. The court does not need to intervene to ensure the surviving spouse becomes the sole owner of the premises. There is a right of survivorship.
Life insurance benefits also do not pass through probate court. In this case, it is because the decedent completed paperwork naming a beneficiary in the event of his or her death.
Select bank accounts may also not fall under the auspices of probate court. Accounts marked “Payable on Death” or POD become the asset of the individual named upon the death of the account owner.
If you are named as the executor or executrix in a Will, you likely have questions concerning probate and your role. Contact Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC to learn how we can help you.