What You Need to Know If You Are Serving as Executor in Tennessee

If you recently lost a family member or loved one, you are likely still going through the grieving process. The last thing on your mind may be the legal implications of the decedent’s death. Someone, however, must begin the process of probating the decedent’s estate. If you were named as the Executor in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, it means that your loved one entrusted you with the job. To help you get started, a Murfreesboro estate planning attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby

Wooden Gavel With Golden Scale Near Book On Table

discusses what you need to know if you are serving as Executor in Tennessee.

How Do I Know If I’m the Executor of the Estate?

One of the first things people usually do when someone passes away is look for an original copy of a Last Will and Testament. Typically, a spouse or adult child has an original copy of the Will. You might also check in the decedent’s personal files or with his/her estate planning attorney. If a Will is located, someone should be named as the Executor in that document. If the decedent died without a Will (intestate), any competent adult can petition to become the personal administrator of the estate. A personal administrator has essentially the same duties and responsibilities as an Executor during the probate of an estate.

What Is Probate?

Your loved one left behind an estate when he/she passed away. That estate is comprised of everything owned by the decedent at the time of death. An estate may include bank accounts, personal items, real property, stocks and bonds, investment accounts, vehicles, and anything else of value. The overall purpose of the legal process known as probate is to identify all the estate assets, pay estate debts, and eventually transfer the remaining assets to beneficiaries and/or heirs of the decedent’s estate.

How Do I Start the Probate Process?

Before you get started probating the estate, you should determine if probate is required and, if so, what assets are included in the probate of the estate. Tennessee offers an alternative to formal probate for estates valued at less than $50,000 that do not include real property. In addition, some assets bypass probate altogether, such as assets held in trust, proceeds of a life insurance policy, and certain jointly held property. To ensure that you follow the right procedures and include all required assets, you should consult with an experienced Tennessee probate attorney.

To initiate probate, you will need an original copy of the Will and a certified death certificate which can be procured from the Tennessee Department of Health. You will need to file a petition to probate the estate along with the required documents with the appropriate court (usually in the county where the decedent was a resident at the time of death). The court will issue Letters Testamentary (or of Administration for an intestate estate) that give you the legal authority needed to act as the Executor (or personal representative).

What Should I Expect from the Probate Process in Tennessee?

After you are officially appointed as the Executor, and the Will is admitted to probate, you will need to notify the beneficiaries/heirs of the estate as well as creditors that a probate of the estate has been opened. If the estate has debts, those creditors may file a claim against the estate. You will need to review those claims and pay them if they are approved. After all claims any taxes due have been paid, it is your job to complete any documents necessary to legally transfer the remaining assets to the named beneficiaries in Will and/or to the decedent’s legal heirs pursuant to the Tennessee intestate succession laws. 

Contact a Murfreesboro Estate Planning Attorney 

If you have additional questions or concerns about what to expect when acting in the role of Executor during the probate of an estate in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro probate attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.


Stan Bennett