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How Long Will It Take to Get My Inheritance in Tennessee?

Dealing with the passing of a family member or loved one elicits powerful emotions, but it also brings about practical and legal steps that must be taken. Following a death, the estate distribution process, known as “probate,” is set in motion. The ultimate goal of probate is to distribute the decedent’s assets to the named beneficiaries and/or legal heirs of an estate. If you are anticipating inheriting from a recently deceased loved one’s estate, it’s natural to wonder when you can expect to receive your inheritance. To give you an idea, a Murfreesboro estate planning attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains how long itMurfreesboro divorce attorney will likely take to get your inheritance in Tennessee.

What Happens during Probate?

When a person passes away, certain legal steps must be taken to administer their estate properly. This process, called “probate,” serves to identify, secure, value, and lawfully pass down the decedent’s assets to the rightful beneficiaries and heirs. Additionally, probate authenticates the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, if applicable, and handles any challenges to the Will.

Does Your Inheritance Consist of Probate or Non-Probate Assets?

To give you some idea how long it will likely take to receive your expected inheritance, you first need to consider the nature of your expected inheritance and the method of inheriting the assets. Specifically, you need to know if the assets you will receive are probate or non-probate assets because non-probate assets (as the name implies) are not required to go through probate. As such, non-probate assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries shortly after the owner’s death. Common examples of non-probate assets include:

  • Jointly owned property if owned “with rights of survivorship.” 
  • Assets designated as “payable on death” or “transfer on death” (usually financial accounts).
  • Assets held in a living trust.
  • Certain retirement accounts (such as an IRA or 401(k)).
  • Proceeds of a life insurance policy

These non-probate assets may automatically transfer by law to the designated beneficiary and/or co-owner upon the death of the owner. Therefore, if your inheritance is made up of non-probate assets, you can expect to receive it relatively quickly after the death of your loved one.

How Long Will It Take to Receive My Inheritance If It Has to Go Through Probate?

If your inheritance involves probate assets, the next factor that may impact how long it takes to get your inheritance in Tennessee is whether the estate must go through formal probate. If the estate qualifies for a small estate alternative to formal probate, you may, once again, not have to wait long to receive your inheritance. If, however, your inheritance involves assets that must go through formal probate, be prepared to wait for a minimum of about six months before receiving it because Tennessee law allows creditors up to four months after the publication of notice to file claims against the estate. Then, every claim must be reviewed and approved or denied and approved claims must be paid before any remaining assets can be distributed to beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate. 

If the estate gets caught up in litigation because someone challenges the validity of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, it could easily take over a year to probate even a relatively modest estate. Another potential hold-up when probating an estate is when the estate lacks sufficient liquidity to pay all debts (including estate taxes). In that case, the Executor may need to sell estate assets to pay claims which can lead to a delay in the probate process. 

If you want a more accurate estimate of the length of time it will take to receive your Tennessee inheritance, consult with an experienced Tennessee estate planning attorney.

Contact a Murfreesboro Estate Planning Attorney

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding a Tennessee inheritance, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro estate planning attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.


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