What Costs Are Associated With Probate in Tennessee?
How much probate costs in Tennessee varies widely and depends on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the estate and what tasks must be handled during the probate process. Whether or not there is a will or heirs who contest it, for example, can drastically change the overall cost of probate.
Keep reading to learn about some common costs associated with probate, how much you might expect to pay for probate in Tennessee, and how working with an estate planning attorney now can save your estate probate costs and reduce hassle and stress for your loved ones in the future.
Common Costs for Probate
Every case is different, and the probate fees an estate may need to cover vary based on the county or city where the case is filed, the types of assets in the estate, whether or not someone created a will or otherwise planned ahead, and numerous other factors. However, some types of costs that you might expect when going through probate include:
- Filing fees. These are the fees associated with filing documents with the clerk of court. They can vary depending on how big the estate is, the county or city clerk of court’s fee schedule, and how many documents must be filed.
- Fees for letters or certificates. You may need official letters or certificates to work through the probate process, and you’ll need to pay for those.
- Mail and notification costs. Probate may involve a lot of communication with and notifications to heirs, creditors, and others. Often, it’s a best practice to use certified mail for notifications so you have proof you sent them.
- Executor or administrator fees. You may need to pay someone for their time in settling the estate. Some people choose to work with lawyers or other professionals to handle these matters. However, even when someone has named a family member as an executor, they may have created provisions to pay that person for their time.
- Appraisal services. The executor may need to get estate assets appraised. This involves professional valuation services.
- Accounting fees. The executor will likely need to file a final tax return for the decedent and often an accounting of the estate is required. If the estate is complex, an accountant should be used to help prepare the accounting.
On top of these common fees, numerous smaller costs can add up. If assets must be stored during probate processes, for example, there are storage costs. If assets are sold as part of the process, there may be sales and marketing costs, notary fees, and other expenses. These costs can be unique to each estate.
Typically, probate costs are paid for by the estate. That means the assets of the estate are used to cover these costs, thereby reducing the value of the assets that can be divided among heirs once the estate is settled.
How Much Should You Expect to Pay in Probate Court Fees?
Court costs are not the same in every jurisdiction, so it’s important to understand the fee schedule for the clerk of court in your area when you’re planning for probate costs. To provide an idea of what to expect, here are some costs taken from the Nashville probate court fees published as of early 2023:
- Petition to probate a will: $289.50
- Petition for conservatorship or guardianship: $219.50
- Small estate affidavit (with a will/without a will): $105.50/$100.50
- Initial service of summons or notice by the sheriff’s office: $42 per notice
- Filing an exemption to a claim: $42
These are just a few of the many fees listed by this court. The fees range from $5 to $300 depending on the type of document being filed. You can expect most probate processes to require at least a few filings. Every county has different filing fees so it is important to check with each probate court.
What Factors Impact the Cost of Probate?
How much probate might cost depends on factors that include:
- The size and complexity of the estate. Larger estates may require more time to probate and more filings.
- Whether there are disputes. If heirs are fighting over the validity of the will or any other aspect of probate, that increases court filings. It may also mean you need to hire a lawyer to protect your interests.
- Whether or not you use the services of a probate attorney. You’ll pay attorney’s fees on top of filing and court fees. However, an experienced lawyer may be able to reduce the time probate takes and ensure there aren’t expensive mistakes with procedures and filings.
- Whether someone planned ahead for their estate. When someone has planned ahead by creating a will, naming an executor, or using trusts to avoid probate altogether, the expenses of probate can drop substantially.
How Can Estate Planning Reduce the Cost of Probate?
One of the best ways to reduce the cost of probate is to keep your assets out of this process. You can do this with strong estate planning that includes leveraging payable-on-death accounts, gifting during your life, and joint ownership to ensure assets can pass to others without going through probate. A lawyer can also help you set up trusts to keep assets private and out of probate.
When you put assets in a trust, the trust—not you—becomes the owner of those assets. That makes it easier to transfer the ownership of the assets or the benefits associated with the assets to someone else upon your death.
It’s never too early to consider estate planning. For more information about how an estate planning attorney can help you safeguard your legacy, provide for your heirs, and reduce the costs and hassle associated with probate, contact Crow Estate Planning & Probate today by calling 615-558-8002.