What is Probate?
In Memphis and all of Tennessee, probate is the process of transferring a deceased individual’s
property to the proper recipients. The deceased individual is also known as a decedent. The Probate
Court oversees the process to ensure that the transfers follow the correct law. The Court recognizes
the authority of an executor named the decedent’s will to act on behalf of the decedent’s Estate. If
the decedent died without a will they are said to have died intestate and the Court will appoint an
administrator to act on behalf of the decedent’s Estate. Both executors and administrators are referred
to as the personal representative of the estate. The personal representatives are responsible for
gathering the assets of the estate, notifying all interested parties (creditors, heirs and beneficiaries),
filing required documents, and distributing assets.
What is the Probate Process?
In general there are two types of probate proceedings Testate and Intestate. Both begin when an individual
passes away. That individual is known as the decedent. If the decedent left a will they are said to have died
Testate. If the decedent failed to leave a will they are said to have died Intestate. Both proceedings require
that an interested party willing to serve as the personal representative of the estate file a petition with the
probate court an estate be opened. After the filing of the petition the Court will hold a hearing on the petition.
During this hearing the Court will hear proof required to open an estate; at the end of the hearing the Court
will appoint a personal representative of the estate. The personal representative is known as an executor in
testate proceedings and as an administrator in intestate proceedings; there is no requirement that a personal
representative be an attorney. The Court charges the personal representative with certain duties. These duties
generally include filing an inventory and accounting with the Court, marshalling or collecting assets of the
estate, giving notice to beneficiaries or heirs at law, as well as the creditors of the decedent. The personal
representative must also file the appropriate tax forms with both the State of Tennessee and the Federal Government.
The estate must use estate assets to pay all valid bills, debts, and taxes of the decedent. After all debts have
been paid and no other creditors or taxes are due, the money can be distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs at law.
Watch a video explaining the Probate process.
What is a Probate Attorney?
A probate attorney is an attorney that regularly and consistently practices law before the probate court. During
the legal process of a probate, your probate attorney is available to prepare and file all necessary pleadings and forms to
facilitate the probate process and help with any legal advice and proceedings that are involved. The probate process is
complex and tedious therefore we recommend consulting a probate attorney when there are assets of the estate. Your probate
attorney should not only be approachable and responsive, but also have the ability to explain the intricacies of the probate process
in a simple and clear way.
How do I Choose a Memphis Probate Attorney?
There are several highly qualified Memphis probate attorneys. In choosing a Memphis probate attorney you need to
select an attorney that regularly and consistently practices law before the Memphis probate court. While there are
many attorneys that have handled a simple probate matter, they may not understand certain intricacies unless they
regularly and consistently practice before the probate court. Their lack of knowledge and experience could end up costing
you more money in attorney fees. Even the most simple probate matter can very quickly turn into something complex.
Therefore, you should select a Memphis probate attorney with experience handling complex probate matters. Your Memphis
probate attorney should not only be approachable and responsive, but also have the ability to explain the intricacies
of probate process in a simple and clear way. This will make an already difficult situation a little more bearable.
What is Probate Court?
In general Probate Courts are courts that handle the appointment of a
personal representative for the estate of a decedents. Probate Courts
also make certain that a personal representative properly carries out
their duties owed to an estate. The Shelby County Probate Court is
located in Memphis, Tennessee and handles matters including Wills and
Estates, Trusts, Conservatorships, Guardianships, Name Changes,
Correction of Birth Certificates, and Judicial Hospitalizations under
the Mental Health Law.