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Practice Areas

Decedents Estates

The Bailey Law Firm is experienced in administering decedents estates in the local probate courts of Tennessee and the chancery courts of Mississippi. What is Probate? Probate is the legal, court-supervised process by which your assets are transferred at your death from your name to the names of your heirs or beneficiaries. The word "probate" in latin means "to prove." If you have a Will, then probate proves that your Will meets all of the legal requirements to be a last will and testament, such as being signed by you and by at least two witnesses. If you do NOT have a Will, then probate proves the identity of your legal heirs at law, i.e., the persons who will inherit your assets according to law. Who Handles Probate Cases? Each county in each state has a court and judge designated to handle probate cases. In Tennessee, the court is either the Probate Court or the Chancery Court. In Mississippi, it is the Chancery Court. A probate case, or "Estate," is opened by a Personal Representative. If you have a Will, then the personal representative is the person named in your Will, called the Executor. If you do NOT have a Will, then the Personal Representative is the person appointed by the court, called the Administrator. The Personal Representative files a petition with the court clerk and appears before the judge with a probate attorney representing your estate. The judge grants the Personal Representative the authority to administer your estate, and the probate attorney guides the Personal Representative through the legal steps and hurdles of probate. How Much Does Probate Cost? Probate costs range from 2 to 5 percent of the value of your assets or "estate." Probate costs include court filing fees, bond premiums, attorneys fees, accounting fees, appraisal costs, inventory costs and personal representatives fees. If you die without a Will (intestate), then the cost is much higher. How Long Does Probate Take? From beginning to end, probate can last for 4 months, to more than 2 years, from beginning to end. The estate must be opened, court papers must be filed, assets must be collected, creditors must be notified, debts must be paid. Tax returns must be filed and inventories and appraisals must be completed. After the final distribution to beneficiaries, then the estate must be closed. Each of these steps takes time to complete. The minimum time period to complete probate in Tennessee is 4 months, and the minimum time period in Mississippi is 90 days. The national average is 16 months.

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