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I’ve been named executor for a small estate: what do I do?

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2021 | Estate Planning |

When a loved one passes away, they often leave a will detailing how they would like their assets and property to be handled. In the will, they may name an executor – usually a family member or close friend – someone they trust to see that their last wishes are carried out faithfully. If you find yourself in this position, it’s natural to wonder what you’re supposed to do. And while probate can be a complicated process, if the deceased’s estate is small, you can greatly simplify that process.

Small Estates Act

Tennessee recognizes that probate can be difficult in many circumstances. A deceased’s estate can be complex, with large numbers of assets and parties who claim an interest in those assets. However, this is not always the case and Tennessee passed the Small Estates Act to streamline the probate process when a deceased’s estate is relatively straightforward.

What qualifies as a small estate?

To take advantage of the streamlined process, the estate’s value must not exceed $50,000. The value includes personal property only, not real estate in the deceased’s name. If the deceased owned a home or other real property, the small estate process generally cannot be used. Examples of personal property assets include bank accounts, stocks or bonds, retirement accounts and life insurance.

How to apply for the small estate process

The executor must wait 45 days after the decedent’s death before filing for small estate status. Once the time has passed, they need to file an affidavit with the court. The affidavit must include the will and a copy of the death certificate. Any unpaid debts must be listed, along with the addresses of the creditors to those debts. The decedent’s property needs to be itemized, including the names and addresses of anyone who possesses that property. Life insurance must be included, as well as the identity of any named beneficiary in the will.

Although the small estate process is a simplified version of probate, you may still have questions. If you do, seek the assistance of a knowledgeable and qualified professional to guide you.