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What happens during the probate process?

Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person's estate is distributed to his or her heirs. Probate is a necessary step following the death of any Tennessee resident. For most families, they are eager to get the probate process wrapped up and behind them as soon as possible, while also saving as much money as they can on the costs of the proceedings.

As for what happens during probate, the legal process will usually follow these steps:

-- The collection of the probate property belonging to the decedent.

-- Paying off debts, taxes and other claims against the estate.

-- Settling probate disputes and disagreements among the heirs and potential heirs.

-- Distributing the assets that remain to the heirs.

The executor of the estate will play an important role in the probate proceedings, as this person will be charged with the management of the decedent's affairs. Barring the appointment of an executor by the decedent, the court will select a personal representative to fulfill the same duties.

The complexity of probate proceedings usually depends on the size of the decedent's estate. The probate process for a wealthy individual, for example, will usually be longer and more complicated than probate for a middle-class individual.

Going through probate can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you're the executor of the estate and not sure what to do. Fortunately, an estate planning attorney will be able to assist you in this process to ensure that the probate of your loved one's estate goes as smoothly and cost effectively as possible.

Source: FindLaw, "Probate 101," accessed March 24, 2017

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