What Happens If You Don’t Probate a Will in Tennessee?

Lawyer looking over legal documents.

Probate is a legal process designed to ensure the orderly distribution of a deceased person’s assets and resolve any outstanding obligations. In Tennessee, failing to probate a will can lead to long delays in the transfer of assets and potential legal disputes among family members. While it can seem daunting to consider probate in the aftermath of losing a loved one, the consequences of ignoring it can cause greater heartache and financial burdens.

If you don’t probate a will in Tennessee, the decedent’s assets may not be distributed according to their wishes and the executor identified in the will may not be recognized by the court. This could result in the court appointing a third party to settle the estate, causing time delays and increasing the cost of probate.

Consequences of Not Probating a Will in Tennessee

When a person passes away in Tennessee, their will typically goes through the probate process. Probate involves authenticating the will, settling debts and taxes, and distributing the assets to the designated beneficiaries. 

Remember, a will is a legal document, but it needs to follow the validation process. Just as you need to visit the county clerk for a marriage certificate or pass a road test for a driver’s license, a will requires probate to carry its full weight. Failure to probate a will can lead to several potential consequences, including:

  • Failure to disperse according to the terms of the will
  • Loss of Control
  • Prolonged Delays

Failure to Disperse According to the Terms of the Will

If a will is not properly executed, it may be considered invalid by the court. This is especially likely with a handwritten will, which is more commonly contested. An invalid will means that the deceased person’s assets will not be distributed according to their wishes, potentially causing disputes and legal battles among family members. Instead, the assets would be distributed according to Tennessee’s intestacy laws, which may not align with the decedent’s intentions.

Loss of Control

Without probating a will, the court will not recognize the deceased person’s intended executor. This can jeopardize the executor’s authority and lead to a lack of control over the estate’s affairs. The court may even appoint someone to handle the administration of assets whose actions don’t align with the deceased person’s wishes.

Prolonged Delays

Probating a will ensures a streamlined and organized process for distributing assets. Failing to probate a will can lead to prolonged delays in settling the estate, which can cause financial hardships for the beneficiaries and leave the estate vulnerable to potential mismanagement. Delays can also arise from legal disputes or challenges to the validity of the will, further complicating the process.

These delays can impede the timely distribution of assets and increase the costs associated with the probate process.

What Is the Purpose of Probate?

Probate serves as an essential legal process that offers protection to all parties involved. It provides a transparent framework for executing the deceased person’s final wishes, ensures fair distribution of assets, resolves any outstanding debts, and protects the rights of beneficiaries. 

Through probate, the court oversees the proper administration of the estate, verifying the validity of the will, and ensuring the decedent’s intentions are upheld.

Probate also safeguards against potential fraud or mismanagement of the estate, giving heirs and creditors a proper platform to address any claims or concerns. It provides a legal structure that promotes accountability and transparency, minimizing the risk of unauthorized actions or mismanagement of assets.

Probate Assistance

Navigating the probate process can be complex and overwhelming, especially during a time of grief Johnson, Murrell, & Associates understands the intricacies of Tennessee’s probate laws and has over four decades of experience in handling probate cases. Our dedicated team of lawyers can guide you through each step of the probate process.

By choosing us for your probate needs, you can have peace of mind knowing that your loved one’s estate will be handled with care and expertise. Our commitment to providing personalized and comprehensive probate services makes us the ideal choice for anyone seeking professional probate assistance in Tennessee.

If you’re looking for an attorney to carry the burden probate can bring, contact us to get the process started.

Probating a will in Tennessee is a necessary step to safeguard the interests of the deceased person’s beneficiaries and ensure the orderly distribution of assets. Failing to probate a will can result in dire consequences, such as the loss of control over the estate, prolonged delays in settling the estate, and increased probate costs.

It is crucial to recognize the importance of probate and seek the guidance of experienced professionals to navigate the probate process successfully. Don’t delay in taking the necessary steps to honor your loved one’s final wishes and protect the rights of all involved parties.

At Johnson, Murrell, & Associates, we understand that handling a loved one’s estate and bills after their passing is an emotional, stressful experience. Our job is to make your life easier, which means guiding you through the process so you understand what’s to come. To schedule a consultation, call us at 865-453-1091 or schedule an appointment.

Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson

Alex Johnson is a partner at Johnson, Murrell & Associates specializing in probate law. He is a University of Tennessee College of Law graduate, and his experience includes serving on the Leadership Tomorrow Advisory Board, the Sevierville Commons Association, and the Board of Directors for the United Way of Sevier County.