Tennessee offers a probate shortcut for "small estates." This makes it easier for survivors to transfer property left by a person who has died. You may be able to transfer a large amount of property using the following probate shortcut -- saving time, money, and hassle.
Tennessee has a simplified probate process for small estates. To use it, an executor files a written request (affidavit) with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court may authorize the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.
You can use the simplified small estate process in Tennessee if the value of the property, not counting property held jointly with right of survivorship or real estate, is $50,000 or less. There is a 45-day waiting period. Tenn. Code Ann. § § 30-4-102 and following.
The executor must include the original will with the affidavit. The form lists the deceased person's assets and debts, not including real estate. The form must also list the address of each creditor and the amount of each debt, the names and addresses of anyone who has the decedent's property, and a list of insurance payable to the deceased person's estate. The form also lists the name, age, address, and relationship of each inheritor.
The affidavit must be accompanied by a certified copy of the death certificate. The executor may be required to secure a bond, which serves as insurance that he or she will properly administer the estate. The amount of the bond is equal to the estate value. After paying all the claims of the estate, the executor can file an affidavit saying this to fulfill the bond requirements and be released from it. Tenn. Code Ann. § 30-4-103.
For help determining if an estate qualifies for one of this probate shortcut, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo) or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).