A few things to know about probate law
Simply put, probate is proving the validity of a will. But it gets more complicated in reality. When does a will enter probate? What do you do when someone dies without a will? Do you need an attorney?
After a person’s death, a designated representative, called a fiduciary, is required to distribute the estate’s assets and settle any outstanding debts. This process is governed by Tennessee state law, as are the conditions that merit entering probate. Tennessee doesn’t require all wills to be entered into probate but it can be difficult to settle an estate without entering probate.
Most probate cases in Tennessee will cost around $500, not counting additional attorney and accountant fees. Also, it takes around six months on average but can last years. When a person dies without a will, the estate is required by law to enter probate, which is governed by probate court
Do you need a probate attorney?
Overall, this isn’t an easy question to answer. But when you are in doubt the best thing to do is ask for a consultation. But there are a few situations when you will definitely need legal representation.
The most common question asked of the Probate Court Clerk’s Office in most counties is “Do we need to probate this will we found?” If you want to be appointed as a fiduciary under the supervision of a probate court, then the answer to this question is yes you must be represented by legal counsel. The court requires this because, as a fiduciary, you have legal duties and obligations to other persons other than just to yourself.
Adults are allowed to represent themselves but it’s a good idea to have legal representation. In addition, Tennessee state law allows petitioners to proceed without an attorney in opening a small estate under the Tennessee Small Estate Act although, again, it may be advisable to have an attorney depending upon your particular circumstances. For questions regarding estate planning laws, contact the Law Office of Michael Craig and we’ll be glad to assist you.
How long does the probate process take?
Depending on how detailed the will is (and whether there is one) and how quickly the executor of the will acts, probate can take a few months or it can be drawn out for years.
What is an executor?
Executors are in charge of settling debts, cancelling payments, distributing property and inheritances, and working with attorneys to administer the estate.
If you need additional information on these questions or if you have others, please contact the Law Office of Michael Craig.