The Complete Guide to Probate Court in Tennessee (2023)

Chances are you have a lot going on right now.

When someone you love dies, you may feel like you've taken on a new job. You have to organize all of your loved ones belongings, read so many forms and sign so many documents you feel like a lawyer, and make sure pets have a place to live - it's a lot, to say the least.

So just to make it clear that this is what you need and that you are not wasting your time, this article is specifically about navigating the Tennessee probate process.

If shifting still confuses you (which is completely understandable), read our article on what shifting is and whether or not you need one.

It explains whether you need a lawyer, how to know if you are a personal representative or not, and demystifies the process so you can be sure of your options.

Because the last thing you want is to go through all this trouble if you don't even have to. Trust us.

The link to this blog is here 👇

Read more: What is a will and do I need it?

More generally, a will is just one part of the "estate settlement" process, which people spend an average of more than 500 hours and $15,000 on in the first 18 months after someone dies.

It's a huge amount of time and responsibility, and it's a gift to have a step-by-step list that you can just check off as you go.

That way, you know exactly where to start and when you can stop.

You can get this checklist along with an exact idea of ​​everything to do when someone diesright here.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk specifically about probate in Tennessee.

What is a Probate in Tennessee?

Shifting in Tennesseeis the formal process of carrying out a person's final wishes under the supervision of a court by validating their last will and testament (if any), resolving outstanding debts or taxes, and distributing remaining assets to legal heirs.

A will can be complicated, but it's just legal to collect everything you own and formally give it to the right people (and of course give the government some space).

It starts with contacting the court and ends with paying all estate taxes, death certificates and the official distribution of assets to legal heirs and surviving family members.

Probate exists to prevent families from jumping in like a pack of sharks looking for all the cars, bank accounts and other assets a family member had and to ensure that things like death certificates, funeral arrangements and estate taxes are done right.

And since validation is a legal process – rules and procedures vary regionally based on local laws, applicable forms and other established practices.

That is why we have put together this useful resource asa comprehensive guide for anyone traveling to Tennessee.

What does a will look like in Tennessee

Shifting in Tennesseefollow this general flow: go to court, appoint a personal representative, file a will if there is one, record and file appraisals of all relevant assets, ask the court and the beneficiaries to approve, then distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.

And as executor or personal representative of real estate, you are also responsible for:

✔️ Submitting a request for validation to the court in the deceased's country
✔️Decision on the existence of changing assets
✔️Manage and locate this asset
✔️ Appraisal and assessment of real estate
✔️ Receive payments and pay taxes on behalf of the property
✔️ Create a Wealth Control Account and EIN
✔️ Interpretation of wills
✔️Communication and cooperation with heirs/beneficiaries
✔️If there is no will, property distribution according to local law
✔️Evaluation and assessment of property assets
✔️Official notice to creditors
✔️ Compliance with all statutory deadlines
✔️ Payment of funeral bills
✔️Submission of property tax returns
✔️Delivery of death certificate
✔️Delivery of shares and official closing of the property

They actually existmeresmall steps in between, but that's the point.

Yes, a will can seem like a lot, but keep in mind that the process usually takes a year and you may even be entitled to receive executor's fees as part of the estate (the total value of all qualifying assets).

Managing all the little details is why it's so helpful to have tools that guide you every step of the way and ensure you don't miss a thing.

They can be very useful in:

  1. I show everything that needs to be done when someone walks by (so you know when you're done).
  2. It gives you an accurate list of deadlines and deadlines for your state and jurisdiction.
  3. Highlight other important details of local laws that you need to know.
  4. Keep all your related tasks in one place on your phone.
  5. Make sure you have calculated the value of your property correctly (getting it wrong is a common and expensive mistake).

So if you skip the headache of having onetrin for trin guidewhat to do when someone crosses into your jurisdiction looks good to you, clickher.


What is unique about Tennessee Probate?

Each state has its own special rules, and even individual counties can change the way they talk about ratification!

The terms used may change in the name, terms and deadlines may vary, the way assets are distributed may vary — so it's good to understand the will in general, but then you have to followresources specific to your jurisdiction.

Here are some of Tennessee's unique accolades:

Don't feel like you have to memorize them or read the entire validation code, but keep this list handy in case something bothers you in the future.

Should I take the Tennessee test?

The short answer is usually, but not always.The larger your estate, the more likely you'll need to go through probate—especially if you own real estate in Tennessee.

Acceptance usually occurs when:

  • The will is not well written
  • The assets are complex and of great value
  • The rightful heir is debated
  • There are disagreements about how to divide certain assets
  • The heir or beneficiary is still a minor
  • Real estate is included
  • (Video) Basic introduction to probate in Tennessee

    You die without a will in Tennessee

    Also known as a "transient testator"

    When someone dies without a will in Tennessee, state law determines who will inherit the deceased's estate.

    This is known as deathtestamentarisk, and when that happens, he manages the propertyimmutable inheritance laws.

    Generally, only spouses, registered partners and relatives inherit a will, while cohabitants and friends do not.

    The general order of relatives who will inherit the deceased's inherited property is:

    1. Surviving spouse
    2. Children and grandchildren
    3. Parents
    4. Brothers
    5. Grandparents
    6. Aunts and uncles
    7. Another extended family

    It is important to remember that many types of assets can be inherited outside of probate, regardless of whether there is a will.

    Intetacy laws do not apply to these items.

    Some of these examples include:

    1. Property titled Living Trust
    2. Life insurance comes with the named beneficiary
    3. Funds in the beneficiary's IRA, 401(k) or other designated retirement account
    4. Securities in an account after death
    5. Bank accounts payable on death
    6. Real estate in joint tenancy or tenancy with another

    Read more: Which assets are considered confirmed?

    Types of Wills in Tennessee

    In most states, there are different versions of a will. They offer varying degrees of speed and complexity, depending on the size and scope of the property, and while most states and jurisdictions follow a similar course, there is no exact standard.

    In general, it's best to take the shortest path you qualify for, as this speeds up the entire process and gets the property into your hands or your family's hands faster than outright probate.

    Are you a financial advisor? We have something worth your effort. ☕️

    Tennessee Probate Terms

    Part of handling probate effectively in Tennessee is understanding your time constraints—you generally need to act quickly. It's not ideal, but the state wants to move things forward to prevent backups in the courts.

    People often miss deadlines during probate, which really changes and complicates the process! You don't want to be that person!

    Here are the Tennessee deadlines to know:

    🚨 Caution:Failure to file notices with creditors may be the MOST common mistake people make when making a will. If you don't do your due diligence, you could be personally liable for the estate's debts – which is NOT fun.

    ➡️Click here for a simple tool that ensures you don't miss a single creditor message

    (Video) Probate Process From Start To Finish

    Tennessee Probate and Estate Settlement Forms

    A will is mostly about filling in forms. Here is a comprehensive list to refer to when reviewing a will in Tennessee:

    • Deposit certificate
    • Application for a will
    • Notice to creditors
    • Bond or waiver of bond
    • List of interested parties
    • Submission of statement and assessment
    • Current/annual accounts
    • Notice to users (consent"all good"before closing)
    • Application for the creation of a will
    • Release of responsibility and liability

    How Much Does a Will Cost in Tennessee?

    Probate and estate settlements generally cost an average of $15,000unless you use tools that make it easier, but remember that the money you spend will be the estate's money, not yours.

    Do I have to pay for a personal representative?

    To. Being an executor or personal representative takes a lot of time, so in return they usually receive compensation in the form of probate. If you are doing all the work for a Tennessee estate and you are named the representative or administrator, that person is you!

    Should I Hire a Tennessee Probate Attorney?

    Attorneys can easily cost thousands of dollars during the probate process, but if you know an estate dispute will arise or you have a complicated estate, it's definitely worth it.

    Here's how to think about it:

    • Vasable toBe sure to prepare all forms for the letters yourself. Some states may require an attorney to file a motion with the court, but Tennessee does not.
    • A lawyer will save you time and headaches.
    • A lawyer can make sure you don't make big tax mistakes or miss deadlines.
    • The larger and more complex your estate, the greater the reason to hire a lawyer.
    • As long as they existapplications and toolswhich makes probate much faster and simpler for individuals, this does not diminish the value of a lawyer. Even being a lawyer does not mean that using these tools is pointless. In fact, using something that allows you to quickly appraise and list assets, easily communicate and follow the process step by step, can reduce the number of hours your attorney spends, reduce legal costs, and improve the experience for everyone.

    Read more: When should I hire a probate lawyer?

    Common Questions About Tennessee Probate Court

    • Do I need a lawyer?
    • What if there is no designated representative?
    • Do I even need a will?
    • How can I submit a will?
    • How can I distribute shares in Tennessee?
    • How do I file a Notice to Creditors in Tennessee?
    • What else do I need to do apart from making a will?
    • Do I have to be a personal representative if I am named in the will?

    Helpful Tools and Resources for Probate Court in the State of Tennessee

    Tennessee probate court deals with organizing important documents, signing forms and equitable distribution. You end up doing a lot of little things along the way, like taking pictures of anything of value, uploading titles, finding titles, contacting relevant users... the list goes on.

    It can be a lot to keep track of, so here are some of our favorite ways to make the process less overwhelming:

    (Video) Tennessee Laws Governing Wills

    Useful tools to save money and time

    Atticus takes this entire Tennessee validation process and compiles it into a simple, manageable checklist that ensures you don't forget anything.

    With atticus, you can control every step, see useful tips specific to your country, take and transfer photos of all valuables, provide overviews and reports to heirs, synchronize your financial accounts so you don't have to constantly update reports, and generally try to make this postmortem process take as little as possible less time, money and energy.

    👉check it out

    Tennessee Small Real Estate Administration

    Transfer of Property Under Tennessee Probate Court

    Regarding Out-of-State Executors Under Tennessee Probate Court

    Tennessee Will Helping Hand This is text inside a div block. Get started for free

    Look for a helping hand
    shift in Tennessee

    Atticus makes settling a loved one's estate easy and affordable - schedule a call today.

    Get started for free

    The Complete Guide to Probate Court in Tennessee (5)

    Disclaimer:The above information is for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to keep our content and links current, state laws may change from time to time, so be sure to confirm all state-specific information with a local authority such as the clerk's office or, if necessary, an attorney.

    For specific or individualized advice regarding your situation, consult a probate, licensed trust and estate tax professional and/or legal professional, or consult the Tennessee Probate Code.

    (Video) Tennessee Small Estate Affidavit - GUIDE


    What are the steps for probate in Tennessee? ›

    Tennessee probate follows this general flow: contact the court, get appointed as personal representative, submit will if it exists, inventory and submit valuations of all relevant assets, have the court and beneficiaries approve it, and then distribute the assets to beneficiaries.

    How much does an estate have to be worth to go to probate in Tennessee? ›

    If an estate is valued at less than $25,000, there is no Will and the decedent was not married, in Tennessee, you can use the summary probate procedure. Note that the state does not have an Affidavit procedure for small estates.

    What assets are subject to probate in Tennessee? ›

    What assets are subject to probate in Tennessee?
    • Real estate held in the deceased's name only. If the deceased is the only name on the deed, then it will need to go through the probate process, in most cases.
    • Personal property in the deceased's name. ...
    • Bank and other financial accounts.
    Sep 11, 2022

    Do you need a lawyer for probate in Tennessee? ›

    Even though Tennessee doesn't require an attorney for probate, it can be helpful to seek legal counsel from an estate attorney. The exception to this rule is in Davidson County, which is Nashville. All filings must be done by a licensed attorney for probate.

    How much does it cost to probate a will in Tennessee? ›

    These are just a few of the many fees listed by this court. The fees range from $5 to $300 depending on the type of document being filed. You can expect most probate processes to require at least a few filings. Every county has different filing fees so it is important to check with each probate court.

    Who inherits when there is no will in TN? ›

    If someone dies intestate in Tennessee with no surviving spouse or descendants, the first beneficiaries would be their parents, if they still live. The estate will be divided between both parents if they're alive or pass in entirety to one survivor. If no parents are alive, the estate then passes to any siblings.

    How long do you have to file probate after death in TN? ›

    Following the deceased's passing, the executor has 60 days to turn in an inventory of the deceased's assets that need to go through probate. They also must notify the deceased's beneficiaries, whether the deceased named them in their will or they were decided according to Tennesse's intestacy laws.

    Does a car have to go through probate in Tennessee? ›

    Joint assets owned with others also don't have to go through probate. Bank accounts, cars or real estate jointly owned are considered non-probate assets, including joint tenants and tenants by the entirety with rights of survivorship. Assets with “transferable on death” or “payable on death” designations.

    What are non-probate assets in Tennessee? ›

    Non-probate assets are assets that are either jointly titled or have a designated beneficiary. You do not have to go through probate if the estate is made up entirely of non-probate assets, regardless of whether the decedent has a valid will.

    How do I avoid probate in Tennessee? ›

    In Tennessee, you can make a living trust to avoid probate for virtually any asset you own—real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, and so on. You need to create a trust document (it's similar to a will), naming someone to take over as trustee after your death (called a successor trustee).

    What happens if you don't file probate in Tennessee? ›

    If the executor fails to probate a will, all the decedent's assets remain in their name indefinitely. That means the deceased individual's assets, such as their house, car or personal property, cannot transfer over to the appropriate parties without court approval.

    How long does property stay in probate in Tennessee? ›

    Probate in Tennessee can take anywhere from six to twelve months.

    Can you live in a house during probate in Tennessee? ›

    There is also no law that states that mandates that a property that is going through probate cannot be lived in. In fact, many state representatives like to have someone live in the property chiefly to: To receive rental income. Ensure that the property is properly maintained.

    How do I transfer property after a death in Tennessee? ›

    An affidavit of heirship is the simplest way of transferring real property after a person has passed away. When a person dies in Tennessee without a will, real estate immediately vests in the heirs of the decedent.

    Can an executor sell property before probate Tennessee? ›

    Keep in mind that a house cannot be sold until: the court appoints an executor, or probate is completed, or until after probate has finished. To speak with a Nashville probate attorney, contact my firm today!

    What does an executor of a will get paid in Tennessee? ›

    In Tennessee, the compensation amount is completely up to the court. The law only dictates that the executor is entitled to “reasonable” compensation. The court decides what they consider to be fair compensation based on the size of the estate, its complexity, and whether the executor is a beneficiary or not.

    How much does a probate lawyer cost in Tennessee? ›

    For an hourly rate, an attorney in Tennessee may charge around $200 - $300 an hour. A flat fee may be around $1,500 to $2,000 for a straightforward probate case.

    What is Tennessee inheritance tax? ›

    Even though Tennessee does not have an inheritance tax, other states do. Be aware of that your assets located in other states may be subject to that locality's inheritance or estate tax.

    How long does it take to settle an estate without a will near Tennessee? ›

    The probate process can last anywhere from four months to a year or more. The length of time depends on a few factors. For example, if the deceased individual had unique and complex assets, such as real estate property that they owned in another state, that can complicate the situation and cause probate to take longer.

    Does a surviving spouse automatically inherit everything in Tennessee? ›

    In Tennessee, if you are married and you die without a will, what your spouse gets depends on whether or not you have living descendants -- children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren. If you don't, then your spouse inherits all of your intestate property.

    Are handwritten wills legal in TN? ›

    What the statute means is that a handwritten will is only found valid if the deceased had signed the document and two witnesses can prove that the handwriting is the testator. The will must be entirely written out – if it is typed out, for instance, it will not be valid under Tennessee law.

    What makes a will invalid in Tennessee? ›

    If a will was incorrectly executed, a court may invalidate it. Undue influence on the testator: When someone benefits by pressuring or intimidating a testator into signing a will – that might not otherwise have been signed – it's undue influence. If proven, undue influence may invalidate a will.

    What rights does the surviving spouse have in Tennessee? ›

    Surviving Spouse's Right To An Elective Share

    Under Tennessee law, the surviving spouse is always entitled to a percentage of the deceased spouse's net estate. The surviving spouse is entitled to this percentage regardless of whether the surviving spouse has been disinherited by the decedent's will.

    What is the shortest time for probate? ›

    Some estates settle or close within a few months, or even a few weeks. Others can take a year or longer. The process involves a lot of steps, all of them necessary to transfer ownership of assets from the deceased and on to a beneficiary (or beneficiaries).

    How long does an executor have to distribute assets in Tennessee? ›

    Following the deceased's passing, the executor has 60 days to turn in an inventory of the deceased's assets that need to go through probate. They also must notify the deceased's beneficiaries, whether the deceased named them in their will or they were decided according to Tennesse's intestacy laws.

    Does Tennessee have transfer on death deed? ›

    Unfortunately, Tennessee does not allow transfer-on-death deeds, a popular tool used to efficiently distribute real property in other states. Tennessee does recognize joint ownership arrangements.

    Do stepchildren have inheritance rights in Tennessee? ›

    Foster children and stepchildren do not have the same rights as biological or adopted children. Because of this, parents want to ensure that the foster and stepchildren are mentioned in the will; otherwise, they will not have any inheritance rights to the parents' property.

    What is a ladybird deed in Tennessee? ›

    A Lady Bird deed creates a general lifetime power of appointment and names a default beneficiary to receive property upon the death of the owner. This type of deed got its nickname when President Lyndon B. Johnson used it to convey property to his wife, Lady Bird Johnson.

    Can the IRS take non probate assets? ›

    If an estate is insolvent, a determined creditor can go after assets that didn't pass through probate but were inherited by beneficiary designation. So, if the decedent had a bank account with a “pay on death” designation, the IRS or other creditors could go after those assets.

    What can be done before probate is granted? ›

    Before being granted probate, you'll need to sign a declaration of truth - the probate registry will tell you how they want you to do this. You won't need to go anywhere to sign in person. You'll need to send some documents with the forms, including: the original will (if there is one) and three copies.

    How do you get around probate? ›

    How to avoid probate
    1. Have a small estate. Most states set an exemption level for probate, offering at least an expedited process for what is deemed a small estate. ...
    2. Establish a trust. Property held in trust is not part of your estate upon your death. ...
    3. Make accounts payable on death. ...
    4. Own property jointly.
    Jan 23, 2023

    What methods exist to avoid probate? ›

    Some strategies to consider if you wish to avoid probate court include:
    • Transfer Property to Revocable Trusts.
    • Reduce Your Estate.
    • Create A Will.
    • Name Beneficiaries.
    • Take Advantage of Joint Ownership.
    Feb 27, 2023

    What are the types of probate in Tennessee? ›

    There are two types of probate in Tennessee: common form and solemn form.

    Do all estates have to go through probate in Tennessee? ›

    Not all assets need to go through probate. Only assets that the deceased person owned in his or her own name, alone, must go through probate. All other assets pass to new owners without oversight from the probate court. Assets that go through probate make up what's called the "probate estate."

    What is the right of survivorship in Tennessee? ›

    Tennessee recognizes joint tenancy with right of survivorship as a common form of joint ownership for non-spouses. This form allows multiple people or entities to own a title interest to the property, and comes with various rights and responsibilities.

    What is a living trust in Tennessee? ›

    A Tennessee living trust is an estate planning tool that lets you maintain the use of your assets while placing ownership of them in a trust. After your death, they are passed to beneficiaries of your choice.

    How long does a trustee have to notify beneficiaries in Tennessee? ›

    The trustee of an irrevocable or non-grantor trust within sixty (60) days after the acceptance and funding of a trust, excluding nominal funding for the trust to have corpus or the depositing of insurance policies on the life of a living person, shall notify each current income beneficiary, each vested ultimate ...

    What is the longest a probate can last? ›

    The legal process of probate can take as little time as 6 months or as long as 2 years. There are several factors on how long the process will take. The complexity of an estate will extend the process, as well as cases where heirs dispute the will.

    How much does an estate have to be worth to go to probate in TN? ›

    If an estate is valued at less than $25,000, there is no Will and the decedent was not married, in Tennessee, you can use the summary probate procedure. Note that the state does not have an Affidavit procedure for small estates.

    What happens when one sibling is living in an inherited property and refuses to sell? ›

    Partition Actions: When One Sibling Refuses to Sell an Inherited Property. When there is no will or trust directing the disposition of a decedent's estate, the Probate Court must adhere to California intestate succession laws. Real estate can sometimes be transferred with a transfer-on-death deed.

    What is a request for special notice in probate? ›

    This is a filing that you can do in a probate action and it will help ensure that you get noticed in everything that occurs in that probate action. There are times that you may not be legally required to be noticed based on what action somebody's taking in a probate case.

    Is probate necessary in Tennessee? ›

    Does Tennessee Law Require Probate? Yes, probate is a requirement for estates in Tennessee. This is the method used to distribute the assets to the heirs and ensure the will is followed.

    Can executor sell property without all beneficiaries approving in TN? ›

    The executor can sell property without getting all of the beneficiaries to approve. However, notice will be sent to all the beneficiaries so that they know of the sale but they don't have to approve of the sale.

    How long does the probate process take in Tennessee? ›

    How long probate takes in Tennessee varies from estate to estate. Generally, this can take anywhere from six months to a year. Following the deceased's passing, the executor has 60 days to turn in an inventory of the deceased's assets that need to go through probate.

    How long to file a claim against an estate in Tennessee? ›

    Generally, under Tennessee law, the longest period anyone has to file a claim against the estate of a deceased person for money owed to them is twelve (12) months from the date of the person's death. That deadline may be even shorter in many circumstances.

    What are non probate assets in Tennessee? ›

    Non-probate assets are assets that are either jointly titled or have a designated beneficiary. You do not have to go through probate if the estate is made up entirely of non-probate assets, regardless of whether the decedent has a valid will.

    Can you sell a house while in probate in Tennessee? ›

    “Can I sell My Parents House?” Yes, you can sell your inherited property while it's in probate. And, it's just a matter of a couple extra documents to file with the probate court.

    What is considered a small estate in Tennessee? ›

    “Estate” means the belongings of a person who has died. Under Tennessee law, there are simplified rules for handling a small estate. A “small estate” is one in which the total value of the personal property of the estate is $50,000 or less. Many county probate courts have forms online to help you handle a small estate.

    What do not go through probate in most states _____? ›

    Assets that generally do not go through probate are (1) jointly owned assets that transfer to the surviving owner, (2) assets that have a valid beneficiary designation, and (3) assets that are in a trust.


    1. Attorney Victoria Lannom explains the probate process in Tennessee
    (Lannom Law LLC )
    2. How Much Does a Probate Cost in Tennessee
    (Daniel Perry)
    3. How To Complete A Probate WITHOUT An Attorney
    (America's Estate Planning Lawyers)
    4. How can you Access Probate Court Records
    (Legal Guide)
    5. Tennessee Small Estate Affidavit
    6. Two Shady Probate Attorney Ploys
    (America's Estate Planning Lawyers)


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