When a family member passes away without a will or another instrument to guide what should happen to their estate, the heirs must determine what to do with certain property. Heirship affidavits are executed upon the death of a property owner and serve as an official documentation for the transfer of title. The Nashville probate lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard help heirs prepare affidavits following a loved one’s death, ensuring that proper procedures are followed. If you need assistance with the preparation or execution of an heirship affidavit, or if you believe that one has been filed wrongly, an estate planning attorney at our firm can help you understand your legal options.Determining the Use of an Heirship Affidavit
Affidavits of heirship, also known as small estate affidavits, are generally utilized when an individual dies intestate, meaning without a will, and the property left is only made up of real estate. The value of the deceased person’s estate may not exceed $25,000 for an heirship affidavit to be appropriate. In Tennessee, title to real property immediately transfers to a person’s heirs when there is no will left behind. An affidavit of heirship contains facts regarding the relationship of the decedent to the proposed heirs, allowing an interested third party to identify the heirs who have inherited the property. When there is more than real property left by a decedent, or their estate is valued at more than $25,000, a Family Settlement Agreement, or FSA, may be appropriate. These agreements are legally binding contracts between a decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries that detail the distribution of their estate assets.Requirements to Execute a Valid Affidavit of Heirship
Any person may execute an heirship affidavit as a voluntary administrator, known as an “affiant,” who then oversees the distribution of property. To be valid, and to complete the chain of title process for search purposes, the affidavit must be recorded at the Register of Deeds Office in the county where the property is located. The heirship affidavit must be signed by a notary public and accompanied by the deceased owner’s death certificate when it is filed.
Heirship affidavits may be used as evidence in court proceedings to show property ownership, should a dispute arise. If an individual believes that the recording of an affidavit was improper, they have six years to bring an action to challenge the facts contained therein. If an individual willfully, corruptly, or falsely swears to statements enclosed in an affidavit, they will be found guilty of a felony. Given the consequences of misfiling these affidavits, it is important to consult a knowledgeable attorney who can aid in their proper execution.Contact an Experienced Probate Lawyer in the Nashville Area
If you need help with preparing, filing, or challenging an heirship affidavit, the Nashville probate attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard can navigate the process on your behalf. We represent people throughout Williamson and Davidson Counties, including in Franklin, Green Hills, and Sylvan Park. If you need guidance regarding an estate matter, contact us online or call us at 615-800-7096 to find out more about our legal services.