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Probating small estates in Tennessee

| Aug 6, 2020 | Estate planning |

People in Clarksville who discover themselves to be party to an estate may worry that whatever interest earmarked for them to inherit will have to go towards paying for the cost of probate. Indeed, the funds to cover the cost of probate do come from an estate’s assets, and depending on how long it may take to administer an estate, those expenses can be significant.

Yet local officials do not want to see all of the assets one spent a lifetime accumulating go towards administrative costs (even if local agencies would end up benefitting from them). Thus, measures exist to allow smaller estates avoid the probate process altogether.

Qualifying for summary administration

Legal experts refer to the process of a small estate bypassing probate as “summary administration.” Essentially, this recognizes that the need to exhaust extensive effort in determining the administration of an estate does not exist due to its total value, and thus authorizes those who may have a stake in it to administer its assets. Per Section 30-4-102 of the Tennessee Code, the state defines a small estate as one whose total property does not exceed $50,000 in value.

Some might think few estates would ever actually have such a small total value, yet according to information shared by CNN Money, the average size of an American estate is $177,000 (with that figure taking into account the multi-million dollar estates that often generate so much publicity).

Petitioning the court to avoid probate

To initiate a summary administration (provided an estate qualifies), one with an interest in the estate must petition the court expression their desire to do so within 45 days of the settlor’s death. An affidavit is then issued allowing that party to collect any debts owed to the decedent. After settling the estate’s liabilities, the petitioner may then administer the estates assets.