Determine the total asset value, liablities and the "net" value of the estate
Determine the total assets, bank accounts, car, personal property - all assets that do not pass to someone else by operation of law [joint ownership with right of survivorship, or in Tennessee for married couples - Tenants by the Entirety], and those that pass by contract such as beneficiary designation or payable on death provisions are EXCLUDED, as is real estate in looking at the $25,000 limit. If the total of the countable assets is at or under $25,000 then you can use this procedure. This "net" amount is the Probatable Asset value of the estate.
At that point you should obtain the proper forms from the Clerk of Court in the county of residence of the Decedent [person who died]. If you prefer some estate/probate lawyers will help you in this process of reviewing assets, eligibility and complete the forms for a small fee. Upon completing the forms - go to Step 2.
Appear before the Clerk of Court [Chancery in most TN counties]
Travel to the court in the proper county [Probate if in Shelby or Davidson County, otherwise in the Chancery Court Clerk's office]. You probably need to bring statements on accounts the Decedent had, along with other information about the "probatable" assets. Also, if the person had a Will, bring that with you. Follow the Clerk's direction, pay any fee, and they will issue you Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary (if the person had a will). Upon receipt of this document, you can go to the various institutions and obtain the assets, and distribute according to the Will or under the laws of Tennessee, as appropriate. Some insitutions may require a release from the Department of Revenue, which can be obtained by contacting the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Here, although you can certainly do this too, it may be obtained more quickly with some assistance from a lawyer who does probate work, but it is up to the individual to decide. Then distribute to the proper heirs.
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