Probate Lawyer Memphis, TN

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When a loved one passes away, you may need to contact a probate lawyer in Memphis, TN at Patterson Bray to help you settle their estate. An estate in Tennessee doesn’t always have to go through probate court first, so it’s important to know what a member of our legal team can do when the probate process is necessary. Losing a loved one is hard. It’s an emotional time. You have a lot on your plate with funeral arrangements and spending time with loved ones. The last thing you want is to worry about a legal process called probate. You deserve to focus your time on your family.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of distributing a person’s assets and paying liabilities based on their wishes in the will. Probate is required for nearly every estate. During probate, the judge and lawyers will help guide the personal representative or executor of the estate. The personal representative will pay all of the debts and liabilities the decedent had and then distribute any remaining assets. For their services, the personal representative is paid a fee from the estate.

Who Is Involved in Probate?

There are many different people involved in the probate process. These include:

  • You or someone else serving as the personal representative
  • The Clerk of Court
  • A judge
  • Your probate attorney
  • The IRS

That last one may cause some anxiety, but part of probating an estate is paying final income taxes. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. By using a Tennessee probate lawyer in Memphis to guide you through the probate process, you can rest assured your loved one’s estate will follow the guidelines set forth.

When Is Probate Necessary?

Not all items go through probate, so it’s important to know what does have to go through probate and what doesn’t. Anything the deceased owned — in his or her name alone — may have to go through probate. We can help you determine what is part of the probate estate and what won’t go through probate. Some of the assets that don’t go through probate include:

  • Joint property: This includes bank accounts, vehicles, or properties that are owned by more than just the deceased. The survivor automatically owns the property upon the joint account holder’s death.
  • Payable-on-death bank accounts: A payable-on-death bank account automatically goes to the beneficiary.
  • Life insurance proceeds: If the life insurance policy specifies a beneficiary, the policy pays that person and doesn’t go through probate.
  • Retirement accounts: If the retirement account specifies a beneficiary, the funds go to that person without the need for probate.
  • Living trust assets: Assets may have a name of a trustee for a living trust specified, and in this case, these assets do not have to go through probate court.

What May Be Subjected to Probate?

Anything a person owned when he or she passed away, may be subject to probate. Probate is a court-supervised process that entails proving the validity of a will and distributing assets within the decedent’s estate. Assets may be things like property, bank accounts, life insurance policies, art collections, vehicles, jewelry, and more. If you need help during the probate process after your loved one passed away, we recommend meeting with Memphis, TN Probate Lawyer at Patterson Bray as soon as possible.

There are often four types of assets that may be subject to probate, including the following:

#1 Individual Assets

As a member of our legal team may inform you, individual assets entail all the property that are listed with the decedent’s name without any co-owners. Examples of individual assets can include investment accounts, bank accounts, bonds, stocks, cars, airplanes, boats, real estate, artwork, memorabilia, and business interests.

#2 Tenants-In-Common Property

Tenants-in-common assets can include property that is titled in the decedent’s name along with one or more individuals. Every owner has a percentage of interest for the property (such as 50/50, 25/75, 80/20, etc). Tenant-in-common titles are often named this way for a property that is divided among unmarried owners.

#3 Beneficiary Assets (with Predeceased or No Beneficiary Descriptions)

Assets with payable-on-death or beneficiary designations may have to go through probate if the beneficiary passed prior to the decedent. The assets may include things like medical savings accounts, health savings, life insurance, retirement accounts, 401K, IRAs, and annuities. If the named beneficiaries predeceased the decedent, the asset usually diverts back to the estate and becomes part of probate. The same thing may happen if the decedent listed the estate as the beneficiary, or did not name any beneficiaries at all.

#4 Assets Outside of the Trust

A person may establish a living trust and move assets into it for protection. However, this doesn’t absolutely mean that none of his or her property will go through probate after death. Living trusts can help avoid probate of the property included, but so much time may go by that the person acquired more assets and failed to pass these into the trust as well before passing away. A Probate Lawyer in TN at Patterson Bray may emphasize the importance of updating your trust every few years or as life changes happen, so no assets end up accidentally being left out.  

If an estate is small, you may be able to go through a simplified probate process in Tennessee. This applies for estate totals equal to or less than $25,000 without adding real estate into the total.

How Long Does Probate Take?

Each estate is unique. While there are guidelines that state probate should not take more than one year, that isn’t always the case. Some estates are extremely complex and require many years to probate and close. Other estates take a few months. There are certain things that must happen during probate and there are waiting periods. For instance, when you file a notice to creditors to alert any creditors that they need to file a claim against the estate to be paid, you have to wait a certain number of days for those creditors to file claims. This means that even in simple estates, you’re looking at a minimum of about six months.

At Patterson Bray, we understand just how difficult it can be to settle your loved one’s final affairs. If your family member’s estate has to go through a probate process, things might get a little overwhelming and confusing. That’s why we encourage you to speak with a TN Probate Lawyer in Memphis. We work hard for our clients and try to make the probate process as stress-free as possible for them.

Here are some of the benefits of hiring a probate lawyer:

  • Save Time: Taking a family member’s estate through the probate process can be a time-consuming matter. With so many other things on your plate, you shouldn’t have to worry about handling the entire probate process on your own. We have the experience to finish the probate process as quickly as possible. With your lawyer doing all the legwork, you can reduce a lot of stress and have more time to take care of your family. 
  • Complete Paperwork: The probate process involves a lot of paperwork. Some of this paperwork can be confusing and difficult to understand for the average person. Even a small error can slow down the entire process. We can remain by your side and help out with the paperwork to ensure you understand everything you are filling out. 
  • Cost Savings: While hiring a Probate Lawyer from Tennessee does cost money, it could potentially save you more money in the long run. An experienced probate lawyer can prepare and process documents efficiently and reduce time in court, which may help you save money. A probate lawyer could also provide counsel that helps to minimize estate taxes. 
  • Alleviate Tension: Estate administration can sometimes create family tension. For example, if one family member doesn’t receive the inheritance he or she deserves, that person might become angry and take it out on other family members. We can help alleviate some of the tension between family members and help them understand the process better. 
  • Legal Knowledge: When you are dealing with something as complex as estate administration, it helps to have an experienced lawyer by your side. We have likely handled similar cases to yours in the past and should be prepared to handle any unique challenges that may come your way. Our attorneys at Patterson Bray administer estates constantly and we are prepared to lead our clients in the right direction. 
  • Support: Handling an estate administration after the death of a family member can be quite daunting. Our legal team can provide endless support through the entire process and be there to offer guidance. If you ever have a question or concern about something, you can just call your lawyer and talk to him or her about whatever is troubling you.

What Exactly Does a Probate Lawyer Help With?

A probate lawyer may help the Personal Representative of the estate go through the probate process. Any Memphis, Tennessee Probate Lawyer may tell you that the probate laws and steps vary from state to state, which is why you may find it helpful to work with a professional.

Your lawyer may also inform you that probate can vary from case to case depending on the existence of a valid will. We can advise you of the laws in your state and help you determine what to expect in the probate process.

A member of our legal team may address several items, including:

  • Locating probate and non-probate assets
  • Collecting life insurance money
  • Obtaining appraisals of the deceased’s property
  • Preparing and filing the documents the probate court needs
  • Rolling over and making elections for retirement plans
  • Taking care of the estate checking account
  • Advising on any payments of outstanding debts and final bills
  • Determining any inheritance or estate taxes
  • Dealing with any income tax issues
  • Helping with selling estate property
  • Requesting court permission as necessary
  • Retitling the real estate
  • Settling disputes between beneficiaries and personal representatives
  • Distributing remaining assets after the final estate has been settled

Once Probate Has Concluded

Once probate is complete, beneficiaries are awarded their portion of the estate as written in the decedent’s will. If at any point during the probate process a beneficiary or family member feels their loved one’s legacy is not being handled correctly, they may be able to take action to set things straight.

This time may also accompany a heavy period of grief, so a Probate Lawyer in Memphis, TN at Patterson Bray understands that you may need some legal insight and compassionate support. Do not hesitate to reach out to us to book your free consultation. Probate may take months or even as long as a year before closing, so we suggest receiving legal counsel periodically along the way.

The Executor’s Role During Probate

If you were named as the executor of an estate, you probably want to know what your role will be when the estate goes through the probate process. Being an executor is no easy task. Especially if the deceased is someone you loved and cared for, it can make settling their estate particularly difficult. If you are grieving your loved one’s passing and are the named executor, working with our attorneys can help you ensure you are making the right decisions for their estate and can give you peace of mind that it is done correctly. 

What will the executor do? 

The role of the executor for the estate planning process is not simple. If you were named as executor, you will be there to ensure each part of their estate is closed out. This means in addition to following directions the deceased may have left you, you will be going through the probate process. From the beginning, you will help: 

  • Start the probate process 
  • Manage the estate daily
  • Pay taxes on the estate 
  • Locate property listed in the will and manage it until it has gone through the probate process
  • Distribute what remains of the estate after probate to heirs named in the will

Is all property going to be subject to the probate process? 

Not necessarily. If, for example, the deceased shared property with a spouse, this is considered joint property. When there is joint property, it is not going to go through probate as the surviving spouse will still have ownership of the property. Because property can be tricky when it comes to joint ownership, it is always good to have a reliable attorney by your side throughout the process. 

What do I need to do? 

When you are starting the probate process, you will need to file a petition with the probate court to kick things off. The beneficiaries listed in the will are notified when the probate process begins and you will set a date to go to court. Unless there are issues contesting the will or arguing over who is executor, you can begin the probate process. The job of the executor is extremely detailed, and your probate lawyer in Memphis can help ensure you have filed all of the necessary documents and that they are filed on time. While being named executor can be a big honor, it also comes with many responsibilities and it can help to know you have a lawyer there the entire time. 

Contact Patterson Bray Today

Our team has the keen eye you need to make sure your loved one’s inheritance goes to the right people. Don’t leave it to yourself to determine whether your loved one’s estate needs probate. That could cause even more delay and be more costly than simply hiring the right probate attorney from the start.

As the personal representative or executor of the estate, you don’t pay us anything out of your own pocket. The estate pays our fees and it pays yours, too. For your services in this process, you will receive payment once the estate is closed, which should happen within one year.

The probate process can be complicated, and it’s the last thing you want to deal with after losing a loved one. Contact a TN probate lawyer in Memphis at Patterson Bray at 901-372-5003 today.

How to Speed Up the Probate Process

Probate has a reputation for being a long and tiring process. If you are the executor of an estate, you may dread having to go through the process. The good news is that you can take steps to speed up the process. Here are a few tips to follow.

  • Begin the process promptly. After the death of a loved one, you understandably need some time to properly grieve the loss. However, you should be careful not to wait too long. The longer you wait to start the process, the longer it may drag on. If you open probate in a reasonable amount of time, you can finish quicker. 
  • Give proper notice. Right after you open probate, notify beneficiaries and creditors as soon as possible. This will give creditors sufficient time to bring claims against the estate if necessary. If you do not give them proper notice, it can cause significant delays in the probate process.
  • Do not miss deadlines. During probate, you will be required to file multiple documents by certain deadlines. If you miss a deadline, it will just slow down the entire process. You may have more court dates to go to and have to spend more money. If you think you will have trouble remembering deadlines, you may want to write them down on a calendar. 
  • Hire a probate lawyer. Some people avoid hiring a probate lawyer to save money. While you are not required to work with a probate lawyer in Memphis, TN, it is in your best interest to do so. Probate is a complicated process and it can be easy to make mistakes. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the process and prevent you from making costly mistakes. This will help you get through the probate faster and with less hassle. 
  • Maintain communication with beneficiaries. As the executor of an estate, you are responsible for communicating with beneficiaries on a regular basis. Whenever there’s an update in the probate process, it is important to let them know what’s going on. If you keep them in the dark, some beneficiaries may become suspicious and try to contest the will. This can severely slow down the probate process. Do your best to provide the beneficiaries with frequent updates and return their messages in a timely manner.

Protecting Digital Assets

From bankbooks to Facebook, more and more activities, both business and pleasure, are being conducted over the internet every day. A recent study reports the average American had almost $55,000 in digital assets. These assets can present unique challenges during the estate planning process. These assets need to be passed on or wound up just like physical assets, but each online service has its own rules on handling accounts after death. A probate lawyer in Memphis, TN can help.

What Digital Assets Are

Digital assets can be many different things, and it is important to have a clear understanding of the different types since they can require very different treatment after death. Digital assets include:

  • Files on your home computer like pictures, word documents, and spreadsheets
  • Digital books and music like iTunes and Kindle books
  • Social networking accounts like Facebook and Twitter
  • Online gaming accounts and valuable in-game assets
  • Websites or domain names you own
  • eCommerce information like bank accounts, PayPal, and eBay

Choosing how to handle each of these assets can require some careful thought because they will each likely need a different form of treatment. For instance, PayPal accounts can probably simply be closed out after withdrawing the funds, but some people would prefer to see their Facebook page memorialized rather than simply closed.

Handling Digital Assets

As a Memphis, TN probate lawyer can explain, handling digital assets may be a challenge because the problem is somewhat new. This means that the law has yet to catch up to the technology in many ways. Instead, much of the legal landscape is determined by the individual service itself based on the “Terms of Service” that they have each user agree to. However, there are still precautions that you can take in order to better empower your loved ones to carry out your wishes.

The first thing to do is to create a digital inventory. This is a list of all your digital assets, where to find them, and the usernames and passwords necessary to access them. This inventory should also include instructions to the executor of your estate detailing what you would like them to do with each of the assets.

Then you should make sure that your legal documents include provisions for the management of your digital assets. This means designating an executor to handle your digital estate. This can be the same person as the executor for the rest of your will, but it does not have to be. If the executor for most of your estate lacks computer skills it could be prudent to name someone else to deal with digital assets. While this executor may still have trouble carrying out all your wishes if the website’s Terms of Service will not allow it, arming them with a digital inventory and a legal document can certainly improve their chances.

Call Our Office

If you would like to make an estate plan or if you want to update your plan to account for digital assets, contact Memphis, TN probate lawyer today from Patterson Bray PLLC.

Probate lawyer Memphis, TN

 Probate is a process that takes place after someone dies, when their estate needs to be settled. The probate process can take time and is complicated, especially if the deceased person owned property or had debts.

A Probate lawyer in Memphis, TN will help you navigate the probate process and ensure that it is completed in a timely manner. 

Here are some common questions about a Probate lawyer in Memphis, TN:

What is a probate lawyer?

A probate lawyer is a legal professional who is qualified to help you with the legal matters related to the administration of an estate. The word “probate” simply means “to prove,” and in this case it refers to proving the validity of your will, or other legal documents related to the transfer of assets from one person to another.

Why do I need a probate lawyer?

If you want to know how much money you have left in your bank account, how much money you should give away after your death, or how much money should be used for certain expenses such as funeral costs, then you need a probate lawyer. A probate lawyer will also help you protect yourself against fraudsters who want access to your money while they are still alive (so they can spend it).

What does a probate lawyer do?

A probate lawyer will assist you with any paperwork that needs filling out and filing with government agencies that deal with estates and wills, such as Social Security Administration (SSA), IRS and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

What kinds of legal issues do probate lawyers handle?

Probate lawyers handle all aspects of the probate process from start to finish. They can provide advice and services such as filing documents with the court, representing you at hearings or meetings, collecting assets and property, paying bills and taxes, and distributing property according to the terms of your will or trust agreement. They also can explain the rules that apply to trusts, businesses, and other non-probate assets during the administration process.

What is the difference between a probate lawyer and a family law attorney?

Probate lawyers help with estate planning, including wills and trusts. They also help with probate, which is the legal process that ensures an estate is settled according to the deceased person’s wishes. In some cases, probate can be avoided by using a living trust.

Family law attorneys help with divorce and other family related matters. If you are facing divorce or any other family law issue, please contact a family law attorney for assistance.

How long does it take for my estate to be closed after death?

Every situation is different so there is no set amount of time for this process. However, it usually takes at least six months or longer for everything to be finalized given that there are often many steps involved in closing an estate such as settling debts, paying taxes owed on behalf of the decedent, transferring title on real property or personal property holdings

Why hire Patterson Bray PLLC as Your Probate Lawyer

When it comes to probate, many people are unsure of what they need to do and what they can expect. This is why it’s so important to hire a probate lawyer that you can trust.

We can help you with estate planning, including wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We also work with families who need help in the probate process.

We will assist you through the probate process to ensure that your estate is managed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are protected after your death. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of estate administration and can help guide you through the process.