When a person dies leaving assets in their sole name without a designated beneficiary, the deceased person's estate must be probated. Probate is a legal process where you transfer the deceased person's assets to other people, either pursuant to decedent's Will or pursuant to Tennessee's laws of intestate succession if the decedent did not have a Will.

Ancillary Probate

Ancillary probate occurs when a person dies in another state and their Will is probated in that state, but the person also owns land or other assets in Tennessee requiring probate in Tennessee.

Small Estate Affidavits

When a deceased person's assets are less than $50,000, Tennessee allows for Small Estate Affidavits as opposed to Probate. Small Estate Affidavits do not address the decedent's land. Small Estate Affidavits can be with or without a Will.

Muniment of Title

Muniment of Title is documented evidence of ownership in either land or assets through the use of a Will. You do not probate the Will, but you obtain a court order allowing the Will to serve as the Muniment of Title for the land or assets.

Claims against Estates

In Tennessee, decedent's creditors have either one year from the decedent's death or four months from the date the creditor receives a notice to known creditors, whichever is shorter, to file a claim against decedent's estate to recover money decedent owed the creditor. Tennessee follows a specific procedure for filing claims, known as the Claims Act.

TennCare Claims

TennCare claims are different than ordinary creditor claims. TennCare claims can exist indefinitely once a person dies unless you take certain steps to put TennCare on notice of the person's death. TennCare claims typically arise when a person is in a nursing home and Medicaid pays for the nursing home. There are several ways to address TennCare's claim.

Spousal Rights

Tennessee allows a surviving spouse and, in some instances, minor unmarried children to receive additional assets from a decedent's estate beyond the Will or what the laws of intestate succession allow. These rights include elective share, personal property exemption, year's support allowance, and homestead exemption. These rights can be very important in not only obtaining additional assets but also in protecting assets from creditors.