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Tennessee probate for out-of-state executors

When parents live in different states than their adult children, estate planning can become slightly more complicated. As a growing retirement destination, this is a reality for Tennessee residents. With family members across state lines, an individual may choose an out-of-state executor in their will.

An executor is responsible for administering the estate. While the executor does not have to be a loved one, many choose their spouse, child or another close relative. The executor's responsibilities can be time-consuming and expensive. For out-of-state executors, the process can be even more cumbersome.

Restrictions for out-of-state executors

Tennessee law permits nonresidents to act as executors for Tennessee estates, although with a few requirements:

  • Before the nonresident may fulfill their duties, they must appoint the secretary of state as the agent for the service of process.
  • The probate court may require the nonresident executor to post bond, to insure the estate should wrongful or negligent actions occur.

Upon the completion of these restrictions, as an executor, you will determine whether the estate must pass through probate court. Probate may be avoidable with the existence of a trust or other methods of avoiding probate, such as transfer-on-death deeds or property owned jointly. Your role will include determining which property and assets, if any, must go through probate.

Other general duties include accounting for all assets and debts of the estate, submitting the will to the proper court in Tennessee, paying taxes on the estate and distributing all property and assets to beneficiaries. Your duties are complete when everything is both accounted for and distributed.

How to ease the process

Working with an attorney who is close to the estate can be helpful to ensure you are continually abiding by Tennessee law and advise you when probate court appearances are necessary. 

Staying organized and efficient is one of the most important traits of being an executor in general. The probate process can be challenging. Keeping detailed records, maintaining communication with other involved parties and planning your trips to the area carefully can all help to ease the process.

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