The process of settling an estate after the death of a loved one can be a difficult undertaking for a grieving family. One of the things that can make this a potentially complicated process is probate, a step that can take a significant amount of time to complete. If a Tennessee family is facing the probate process after the death of a loved one, it may be helpful to learn more about what is ahead and how to reduce the chance of complications along the way.
Steps of the probate process
Probate is the court-supervised process of evaluating the estate, paying off debts and distributing assets. The first step in the probate process is to confirm that the decedent had a will, and to locate the document. Other requirements one must meet to complete probate include:
- Obtain a copy of the original death certificate.
- File paperwork with probate court.
- Locate and value all assets associated with the estate.
- Pay all outstanding claims and remaining debts.
- Distribute remaining assets as outlined by the will.
- Complete the accounting of the estate.
Probate can take months to complete, and it can take longer if there are any issues, including disputes over the validity of the will.
Is it possible to avoid probate?
It is possible to avoid probate, specifically by implementing the use of trusts. These estate planning tools can set aside and protect assets, and assets held in trusts do not have to go through probate. If one will have to go through probate, it may be helpful to seek the guidance of an experienced Tennessee attorney at each step of the process.