Some people view
probate as a complicated and detailed process as far as time is concerned, but
it’s often necessary in order for certain assets to be distributed
to a decedent’s heirs.
Probate is a legal process where a
will is validated, a decedent’s rightful beneficiaries are located, the
decedent’s debts and taxes are paid and finally, the remaining assets
are distributed among the beneficiaries.
A decedent’s estate consists of all that assets that he or she owned
at the time of death, such as real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts,
personal property, automobiles, collectibles, and life insurance policies,
but only the assets that the decedent owned in
their name alone are subject to probate.
Some assets pass outside of probate, such as bank accounts with
beneficiary designations, retirement accounts with beneficiary designations, investment
accounts with transfer on death (TOD) designations, and life insurance policies.
All of these accounts name beneficiaries and, therefore, pass directly
to beneficiaries without being subject to probate proceedings. Often,
clients will arrange their assets in such a manner that a certain percentage
of their assets will pass directly to beneficiaries, outside of probate.
Those assets usually subject to probate, include:
- Real estate property
- Personal property
- Assets that allow for beneficiaries, but have not named any
- Assets that are held as tenants in common
A cash account
without a TOD designation
What about joint ownership?
In addition to assets with beneficiary designations, there are other assets
that are not subject to probate, and these include properties with joint
ownership with right of survivorship. These assets will pass down to the
second owner when the first owner passes away.
If the account has a TOD, then that particular asset goes to the named
beneficiary once both of the joint owners die. In either scenario, the
asset does not go through probate.
What if someone dies without a will? If a decedent has a solvent estate,
meaning there will be assets left over after all debts and taxes are paid,
then the state is called
In the case of an intestate estate, the probate court will appoint a personal
representative/executor and the assets will be distributed to the decedent’s
closest living relatives according to Tennessee’s
intestate succession laws.
If your loved one passed away, there is not much you can do about avoiding
probate, but you can better understand the process by speaking with an attorney.
As a Nashville probate lawyer serving
Williamson counties, I would be glad to answer your questions.
Call today for a
free case evaluation!