My sister, (TN resident) died last month. Her assets = roughly $7,500 (checking & savings)--and her debits many times that amount. Her bank--with which she had a $10,000 personal loan--cleaned out her checking & savings accounts--bringing her assets to $0. There are no other probateable assets --no real estate, stocks, bonds, possessions or heirlooms--though her estate will likely see a tax refund of about $2,000. She also left a pension and life insurance with a named beneficiary. The creditors=approx.$23,000 now--& bills are still arriving. We don't have the funds to pay for attorney fees out of pocket--& her estate obviously can't cover those costs. What's the best course of action? My brother is executor of the estate--though not yet officially recognized as such.
You need to meet with an attorney. If you pay debts out of the order of priority it can be problematic.
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature.
Tennessee has a probate process for small estates with assets of less than $50,000. Probating the will under the process should be cheaper than a normal probate. However, the personal representative must give notice to all known creditors. Even if the only asset of the Estate is a $2,000 tax refund, the executor still has a duty to produce the will for probate. I suggest the Executor deposit the will with the Chancery Clerk with an attached letter stating that he/she declines to serve as Executor. Then the Executor has satisfied his obligation. An interested party, such as a creditor, can open the estate if they wish.
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