When clients come to my firm, a lot of times it’s their first experience with
probate. They don’t know much about it and sometimes, they don’t know
anything at all. If your loved one died and you were surprised to learn
that their estate has to be probated, you have plenty of company. A lot
of people are in your shoes.
To help you better understand the probate process, I created a list of
frequently asked questions and answers about probate in Nashville. If
you still have questions or need legal representation in a probate case,
I encourage you to contact my firm for assistance.
What is probate?
Probate is the court-supervised process of validating a will, appointing
an executor or personal representative to administer the estate, and having
that individual pay all of the estate’s debts and distribute what’s
left of the estate to the rightful heirs.
What does fiduciary mean?
fiduciary is an individual who has a legal duty to act in the best interests of
another person. An executor of an estate is a fiduciary; therefore, he
or she must act in the best interests of the heirs of the estate.
Fiduciaries cannot engage in any self-dealing, nor can they co-mingle the
estate’s assets with their own. Finally, they cannot treat one heir
better than another. Administrators and trustees are also fiduciaries
and if they fail in their duties, they can be held legally liable for
harm done to an estate.
What is the difference between an executor and an administrator?
An executor is a person named in a will to administer a deceased person’s
estate. If someone dies without a will, the court will appoint an administrator
to settle the decedent’s affairs. Essentially, their duties are
the same but they have different titles and both executives and administrators
are “personal representatives.”
What does testate and intestate mean?
When someone dies with a valid will, he or she is said to have died testate.
On the other hand, if the person dies without leaving behind a valid will,
they are said to have died “intestate.” Intestate estates
are distributed according to Tennessee’s laws for intestate estates,
which means the property is usually distributed among the decedent’s
next of kin or closest living relatives.
What does admitting a will to probate mean?
When a will is
admitted to probate or when it’s probated, it means the will was submitted to the probate
court to be validated. Once a will is authenticated, the court-supervised
process of probate begins – this is where the debts are paid and
the remaining assets are distributed among the heirs.
Do I need a probate attorney?
If you are appointed as a personal representative (executor, administrator or trustee) and the case will be held in Davidson County, you
will need an attorney – you have to be represented by a lawyer because it is required
by the court. If you are opening a small estate, you may be allowed to
forgo legal representation, but it is still advisable to have an attorney
I Didn’t Ask to Be an Executor
Looking for a Nashville probate lawyer?
Contact me today to work with an attorney with compassion, experience and integrity.