What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process in which a decedent's estate is administered. All assets and liabilities of the decedent are identified; beneficiaries are identified and notified, debts are paid; inheritance tax returns are filed, TennCare is notified, and the remaining assets are then distributed accordingly among the beneficiaries.

Even probating small estates can be a complex and sometimes time-consuming process. The process gets even more complicated if a decedent had a large estate made up of many properties, businesses or partnerships. As one can imagine, there can also be disputes among beneficiaries when an estate is distributed.

These are just some of the many reasons why it is so critical to obtain an attorney who can help with the probate and estate administration process. The attorney can have many roles in doing so. He or she can represent the decedent's estate, the executor of the estate or any of the beneficiaries, or provide probate litigation representation in the event of a probate dispute.

For these and other probate matters, our experienced Clinton probate lawyers at The Cantrell Law Firm can help with all types of probate matters as well as other estate planning services.

To discuss the estate administration of a family member's estate or other probate court proceeding, schedule a free initial consultation. Contact us at (865) 999-0101 to find out what you should bring to your probate consultation.

Which Estates Have to Be Probated?

By far the most frequent question we are asked is, "Do I have to probate this estate?" In Tennessee, that answer is almost always yes, even if the estate is very small. If the decedent passed away owning any assets held solely in his or her name, owned real property or owed any debts, the estate needs to be probated.

Tennessee Probate & Estate Administration

Whenever a person dies, his or her estate goes through probate. This is an administrative process that makes sure all debts are paid off and assets are properly distributed. If the decedent had a valid Will in place, this usually helps make the probate process go faster as his or her last wishes are clearly expressed. There are cases in which the validity of the Will or the meaning of a Will can be disputed among beneficiaries. If not resolved, this may require probate litigation.

When a decedent passes without a Will, he or she is considered to have passed "intestate." The estate is then administered in accordance with Tennessee intestate laws. The probate process is essentially the same, except that the remaining assets will be distributed to the "heir-at-law." Who qualifies as an "heir-at-law" is specifically governed by Tennessee.

Succession Law: Our law firm can assist you in determining who qualifies as an "heir-at-law."

Probate Litigation & Disputes

Our probate lawyers also represent any party in probate disputes and probate litigation cases.

Probate disputes often relate to:

  • Validity of the Will
  • Rights of excluded heirs
  • Distribution of assets
  • Breach of fiduciary duty

We can't stress enough the importance of obtaining a law firm to help guide you through the probate process. Let our law firm help you and your family through this difficult time.

The Cantrell Law Firm provides a free, confidential consultation. We are located in Clinton, Tennessee. Call us at (865) 999-0101, or contact us online.

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