Every estate goes through the probate process – even those where the decedent left a will. If you are named the administrator of the estate, you may face unexpected challenges. We want to offer a handful of tips to remember, to ease along the process.
1. Know that you can say “no” to administering the estate.
Whether you were named executor in the decedent’s will, or you were appointed by the probate court, serving as the executor of an estate is a serious responsibility. There are a host of tasks that you must complete, and you must balance abiding by the wishes of the deceased with settling the estate, and in compliance with Tennessee probate law and tax law. If you are unable to carry out the responsibilities, you can decline and the contingent executor will take your place, or the court will appoint someone else.
2. Obtain a copy of the death certificate.
In Tennessee, you can obtain copies of the death certificate in person at the Office of Vital Records in Nashville, and at your local health department office in the county where the death occurred. You can request certified copies by mail after you follow the instructions on the TN Department of Health website.
3. Make a checklist of everything you will need to accomplish as an executor
As executor, you will have many tasks including but not limited to:
- Managing the household responsibilities for the decedent.
- Obtaining and furnishing letters testamentary where and as when needed. Planning the funeral and burial.
- Opening probate.
- Giving notice of probate to the heirs, beneficiaries and creditors.
- Taking an inventory of the assets.
- Handling the claims for the decedent’s debts.
- Closing the estate.
It would serve you well to sit down with your Chattanooga probate lawyers to get a thorough checklist of everything that is expected of you, and find out how they can be helpful in making sure those duties are accomplished.
4. Notify TennCare if the deceased was 55 years or old at the time of death
TennCare is Tennessee’s Medicaid program. If the deceased was over age 55, you must notify TennCare within 60 days and file a request for release from the Bureau of TennCare for any estate recovery that might be required. Estate Recovery is the way TennCare collects money from the estate of people who have died after receiving TennCare services.
5. Work with an experienced probate administration attorney
Unless you are thoroughly familiar with Tennessee probate law, and have a clear understanding of all the responsibilities and duties of an executor, you would do well to work with a skilled, Chattanooga Attorney. There are many dangerous situations that may occur while performing your duties as an executor and you need the skilled advice of our attorneys to guide you through the probate process.
Working with a probate lawyer from Wagner & Wagner will help ensure that your actions comply with the law, and that you avoid the possible pitfalls that can come when you don’t know what you don’t know about being an estate executor.
The Chattanooga probate lawyers of Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law have the knowledge and experience to help you in your role as executor. We serve clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, and all the surrounding counties. Call us today at 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation.