When a loved one passes away, the situation can soon become complex for families in Tennessee. Issues with a person’s estate and disputes over their assets within the family can breed distrust or exacerbate existing concerns over dishonesty, greed or theft. This is especially problematic when a person dies without a will or did not speak with the family about their plans for the estate. While there is no certain way to avoid future conflict, developing an estate plan can help create clear guidance for how a person’s assets should be distributed after death.
The distribution of a person’s assets after they have passed away is handled by a probate court. Operating under state law, this court certifies the will if one is present and appoints an executor or personal representative. This person is often named in the will as part of the estate planning process. Every beneficiary named in the will has a right to obtain a copy from the court and a right to challenge it, if necessary. The personal representative is responsible for accumulating and valuing the estate as well as paying off any outstanding debts and taxes. After this is handled, the remainder of the estate will be distributed.
When a person dies without a will, they are considered to have died intestate. Every state has laws that govern the distribution of assets for people who passed away without a will, providing for relatives including spouses, children and others.
People who want to make sure that their loved ones are provided for and that their assets are distributed according to their wishes may seek assistance with key documents like a will, trusts or powers of attorney. An estate planning lawyer may work with a person not only to execute these documents but also to develop a plan to achieve the maximum possible benefit for their heirs.