Shepherding You Through The Maze Of Estate Administration
If your loved one dies and had a Will, that Will names an executor who will be responsible for handing the estate’s administration. Usually, the executor hires an attorney who then handles a large part of the estate’s administration.
If your loved one dies and did not have a Will (that is, the Decedent died intestate), the Probate Court appoints an administrator, usually the Decedent’s surviving spouse or next of kin, to handle the estate’s administration. Usually, the administrator hires an attorney to represent him or her in handling a large part of the administration of the estate.
How Probate Works
Probate begins with a hearing in front of the Probate Court Judge. The executor or the administrator of the estate testifies about the existence or nonexistence of a Will and requests the Court to open the estate, legally naming him or her as the executor or administrator. This hearing typically takes only about five to 10 minutes and the testimony required consists of general information.
Once appointed by the Court, the executor or administrator receives documents referred to as either “Letters Testamentary” (if there is a Will) or “Letters of Administration” (if there is no Will). These are authoritative documents that the executor or administrator needs in order to wind up the Decedent’s affairs. Third parties, such as banks or brokerage firms, need copies of these letters in order to transfer assets as directed by the Decedent’s Will or under the laws of intestacy.
The executor or administrator is then responsible for the following:
- Collecting all assets
- Paying valid debts
- Paying any taxes
- Distributing the assets in accordance with the terms of the Will or the laws of intestacy
The Mason Zoccola Law Firm, works regularly with both estate executors and estate administrators to efficiently and effectively administer large and small estates.
Sometimes Things Can Get Complicated
Sometimes, issues arise that complicate the probate process. These may include:
- A contested Will
- A creditor claim against the Estate that the executor or administrator disputes
- A surviving spouse’s right under Tennessee law to elect against the Will and receive a statutorily defined percentage of the estate and to elect to receive a year’s support from the estate
If you find yourself in any one of these circumstances, you will want an attorney well-versed in Tennessee law and probate issues to represent your best interests.
Call To Get Answers You Need
If you need assistance, we welcome your call. Contact us online to know more or call our office at (901) 523-8283. We’re here to help you understand how estate administration works and how it applies to you.