If your loved one recently passed away, soon it will be necessary to locate
the decedent's creditors, pay off their debts and taxes, and distribute
what's left of the estate to the heirs. In order to accomplish these
steps, you must go to court.
In Tennessee, the process of validating a will is called "probate."
The court which handles this process is the "probate court."
The decedent who left behind the will is called the "testator."
To present a will to the probate court, the person holding the will may
produce the document to a judge or a clerk and master. From there, the
court decides if the will shall be admitted to probate.
The judge or clerk and master presides over the case and orders the admission
to, or the denial of probate, and either decides to grant or deny the
application for letters of testamentary.
Is there a time limit for admitting a will?
In Tennessee, there isn't an exact time limit for probating a will,
though letters of testamentary (or of administration) is not usually granted
after ten years from the date of death, however, there are a few exceptions;
for instance, when the heir was an infant when the decedent died.
Who can admit a will for
probate? Any "interested person" may present the will to the probate
court. If there is more than one will, then both wills should be presented.
Under T.C.A. 32-14-131, 40-35-111, the corrupt concealment or destruction
of a will with the intention of preventing probate or to defraud is a
felony, punishable by incarceration.
Letters of Testamentary or Authorization
One cannot enter into the administration of a decedent's estate without
first obtaining authorizing letters: testamentary or administration.
Letters Testamentary are issued to the individual who was named as the executor in the will
be the decedent, whereas
Letters of Administration are issued to the individual who is serving an intestate estate (an estate
that did not have a valid will).
If a decedent died without a will (intestate), administration is granted
to the spouse first, and then to the next of kin. For more information
about admitting a will to probate, contact me, David Whittaker, Attorney at Law.
As a Nashville probate lawyer, I would be more than glad to answer your
questions in a free consultation.
Call today to get started!