Estate Administration Attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee
The passing of a loved one can be a devastating experience for any family. Mourning loved ones takes an emotional and psychological toll. Also, dealing with a deceased loved one’s estate can become confusing during such times. With only about 33% of Americans making formal estate planning arrangements, estate administrators must be keenly aware of their roles and responsibilities.
That is why I am here, serving from my office Mark E. Tillery, Attorney at Law. I work hard to help my clients protect their assets and loved ones in Knoxville, Tennessee, and throughout Knox County, including Maryville, Farragut, and Clinton. My goal is to combine professional legal advice with a human touch, so contact me today for support.
Probate and Estate Administration in Tennessee
Although there are many similarities, there is a slight difference between probate and estate administration. Probate is just a part of estate administration, where the court transfers assets and property to either the beneficiaries or next-of-kin. Probate is officially the process that validates and administers a will, but it can also occur if there was no will upon passing.
Dying With a Will
The will names an estate executor if there is a will in place. The executor is the person in charge of overseeing the deceased party’s assets and liabilities until assets are formally transferred to the beneficiaries. If someone died with a will, then probate court makes sure that the will is valid, and the estate administrator is legally solidified.
In general, an estate administrator can be anyone over 18 and competent to handle the responsibility. The grantor (the deceased individual) can name anyone they choose as their representative. In some instances, the grantor can enlist the services of a professional estate administration attorney to avoid overwhelming loved ones.
Dying Without a Will
Dying without a will – also known as dying intestate – causes the court to appoint an estate administrator. The court generally appoints a close family member. However, the family may request the court name a professional estate administration attorney.
In this scenario, the estate must go through the probate process. In probate, the court decides who gets what using a rule called intestate succession. Intestate succession establishes the order of who gets ownership as follows: surviving spouse, children, parents, and siblings.
The Role of an Estate Executor or Personal Representative in Tennessee
An estate executor or personal representative essentially plays the same role. Here is a closer look at the individual tasks they must perform.
This process involves closing the grantor’s affairs. This process includes paying off outstanding liabilities (i.e., credit cards, mortgages, personal loans), covering final medical or funeral expenses, asset distribution, and supervising asset management until ownership is officially transferred.
The administrator must also deal with non-probate assets, such as insurance policies, personal effects, pensions, social security payments, and retirement accounts.
A key function in estate management is dealing with creditors. Please note that liabilities must be dealt with before assets can be formally transferred to beneficiaries. Administrators can negotiate with creditors to ensure claims are avoided. For instance, the estate administrator can contact a mortgage lender to negotiate mortgage repayment. Repayment could be made following the property’s sale or an insurance payout.
Also, not every asset in a trust is subject to probate. Asset ownership is not necessarily transferred at the grantor’s death. Instead, ownership is transferred when certain conditions are met, such as the beneficiary turning a specific age.
Going Through Probate
When properties go through probate, the administrator must work with the court to provide the documentation and information needed to finalize the process. Probate requires financial information, legal documentation (i.e., deeds or certificates), and information establishing beneficiaries’ eligibility.
An estate administrator has a fiduciary responsibility to the grantor’s estate. In other words, the administrator must ensure that assets are taken care of during the probate process. For instance, the administrator cannot sell a vehicle and keep the proceeds simply because they are the estate administrator.
The Estate Administration Process in Tennessee
It's important that you understand the estate administration process, or at least the very basics of it. An estate administration attorney can help you with the finer details, and you can focus on what’s most important to you.
When a loved one dies, the family must obtain the death certificate and arrange all available documentation to submit to the estate administrator.
The family and administrator formally meet to hand over documentation. During this meeting, a preliminary review of the estate is conducted. Also, beneficiaries may be determined at this point. It is highly recommended that an estate administration attorney advise family members during this process.
Formally Naming the Administrator
If there is no will, the court must formally appoint the administrator. If there is a will, the court formalizes the named administrator.
The estate administrator must formally notify creditors of the person’s passing. This notification includes publishing ads in a local newspaper. Credits generally have 30 days to file claims against the estate.
Liquidating the Estate
This process involves formal asset distribution, payment of outstanding debts, and handover of non-probate assets.
Please note that the court formalizes the liquidation even when a will is in place.
Finalizing the Estate
Once the estate has been liquidated, the court closes the case and formally ends the estate administrator’s responsibility.
Please bear in mind that estate administrators do not get compensated for their role. However, the grantor may stipulate compensation for their services. When an estate administration attorney’s services are retained, their fees are discussed with the family, particularly when the grantor dies intestate.
How an Estate Administration Can Help
Dealing with a loved one’s final arrangements is difficult enough. That is why turning to a trusted estate administration attorney can protect loved ones by easing their burden. A professional estate administration attorney can tackle the heavy lifting allowing families to move on and begin the healing process. Getting a trusted estate administration team on your side is one of the best decisions you will ever make.
Estate Administration Attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee
There is no need to feel too overwhelmed as an estate administrator. My pledge is to provide my clients with the legal counsel they need to protect their loved ones. Call me today to find out how I can help you protect the most important people in your life.