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How is probate managed in Tennessee?

The general idea around a probate court is to give ordinary people access to basic functions of the law so no one is ever unheard. In the modern age, this applies mostly to the legal functions surrounding a person's estate. Sometimes, a person left no estate plan. So how is the fate of their property and money decided?

The 95 counties in Tennessee are divided up into judicial districts the same way that federal courts have districts throughout the country. Each district has a chancery court that handles probate unless the county where a person resided upon death has its own probate court created by a private act.

  • What if multiple counties or states are involved?

If a person had residences in more than one county when he or she died, either county's probate court can claim jurisdiction. If only one county has a probate court, that is the one that hears the case. If a residence exists in another state, that state's probate court or equivalent gets "ancillary jurisdiction," which means it may determine the fate of assets there.

  • What about smaller estates?

Estates of less than $25,000 in value may be dealt with faster under the Small Estates Act. If any of the beneficiaries are minors, however, special administration is needed.

  • How can people get help in probate court?

Anyone with business in a Tennessee probate court may get a lawyer to represent their interests. An attorney may increase the chances that an appearance in probate court will have the result that someone prefers.

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