Probate Court

See Probate Court procedures for wills and inheritance questions.

Probate Court Procedures For Jefferson County, Tennessee

  1. Each county Probate Judge establishes the rules for their court. In Jefferson County, anyone wanting to probate an estate must file with the clerk a prepared petition and order for entry 30-1-117. We do not use standard forms, and the Clerk’s office cannot prepare them for you. You should contact an attorney to assist you in becoming a personal representative for an estate.

  2. After you have filed with the clerk, the will (if one is available), the petition to probate, and the order of your appointment will be reviewed by the Judge to determine if all documents are in order. The Judge will then approve the appointment to open the estate.

  3. Once approved, the clerk will issue to you “Letters” testamentary which authorizes you to administer, with full power, all matters concerning the estate.

  4. A bond for the personal representative is required unless excused in the will or waived pursuant to 30-1-201.

  5. The personal representative (hereafter referred to as PR) must file within sixty (60) days a complete and accurate inventory of the probate estate to the clerk and verify by oath. The inventory shall include but not be limited to both real and personal property, such as checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks and bonds, automobiles, insurance policies payable to the estate, household furnishings, jewelry, etc. The requirement for an inventory may be waived by the will or by certain provisions pursuant to 30-2-301.

  6. Within sixty (60) days after entering on the administration, The PR shall notify all beneficiaries by sending them a complete copy of the will. If there is no will present, the PR must send to each intestate heir a copy of the letters of administration. The PR shall also file, within the sixty (60) day period, an affidavit the required copies have been mailed to the beneficiaries or distributes, or an explanation of efforts to identify and locate if not yet sent. 30-2-301

  7. The clerk will publish a “notice to creditors” in The Jefferson County Standard Banner for two (2) consecutive weeks. In addition, it shall be the duty of the PR to mail a copy of the published notice to all creditors of the decedent of whom the PR has actual knowledge or reasonably ascertained at such creditors’ last known address. 30-2-306

  8. If for any reason an estate checking account is needed, the bank will require that the estate be assigned an Employee Identification Number (EIN) by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You can apply by phone (toll free) 866-816-2065. Application forms are also available in the County Clerk’s office or with your bank.

  9. Copies of all claims filed against the estate are forwarded to the personal representative(s) and the attorney of record. Any disputed claims shall be excepted by filing a written exception with the Clerk’s office. If no jury is demanded, the Clerk shall, within ten (10) days after the filing of the exception to claim, fix a date for the hearing by the court. 30-2-315

  10. All bills owed by the estate should be paid unless contested, and if so, then by priority set forth in 30-2-317.

  11. An Inheritance Tax Return is required to be filed with the Tennessee Department of Revenue by the PR within nine (9) months after the date of the decedent’s death. The short form can be filed if the gross estate is less than the single allowable exemption of $700,000 in 2002 & 2003. 67-8-316. This return may be waived by the court if the estate qualifies to provisions set forth in 67-8-409(g)(1). For assistance contact Taxpayer Services Division of TN Dept. of Revenue toll free 800-342-1003. It is also suggested that a return be filed if there is a possibility of liability for federal estate taxes.

  12. Within fifteen (15) months from the date of qualification, the PR shall make an accounting with the clerk. After the first accounting and until the estate is full administered, the PR shall make further accounting annually from the date of the first accounting. The accounting shall state all receipts, disbursements, and distribution of principal and income for the accounting period and remaining assets held in the estate. The final accounting shall state that the PR has mailed notice of the requirement to file claims, pursuant to 30-2-306(e), to the creditors of the deceased. Detailed accounting of solvent estates may be waived if so stated in the will or if all of the distributees of the residue file with the clerk waivers of such accounting.

  13. If any PR fails to settle the accounts as prescribed above, the clerk shall cite the PR to appear and settle on a given day and if the citation is disobeyed, the PR shall be found in contempt of court and punishable as such. 30-2-602

  14. No account shall be taken until the clerk, or the PR, or the PR’s attorney has served the parties interested with notice of taking the account at least five (5) days before the time fixed. 30-2-603

  15. If all court accountings are waived, the PR shall file a statement with the clerk at any time after the period for creditors to file claims against the estate has expired (four months from the date of the first publication in the newspaper), to state substantially as follows:
    • That the PR has properly administered the estate,
    • has paid or settled all claims which were lawfully presented,
    • has paid all expenses of administration,
    • has mailed notice to creditors to file claims,
    • has filed the final receipt and release from the TN Dept. of Revenue evidencing payment of all inheritance or estate taxes due from the estate,
    • has filed a release from the bureau of TennCare evidencing payment of all medical assistance benefits, premiums, or other such costs due from the estate under law if the decedent was fifty-five (55) years of age or older,
    • has distributed the estate according to the will and obtained and filed receipts for specific bequests or has distributed the estate according to the laws of intestate succession,
    • and that the distributees of the residue acknowledge that the estate has been properly distributed to them.
    The filing of such statement along with the order to close the estate, shall relieve the PR to file a detailed statement or accounting and that the PR shall be excused from any further duties as PR of the estate and be discharged form bond (if applicable).

  16. Small Estate, 30-4-101, means the estate of a decedent in which the value of the property does not exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000). After the expiration of forty-five (45) days from the date of the decedent’s death, provided no petition for the appointment of a PR for the decedent’s estate has been filed, certain individuals shall file with the clerk an affidavit as set forth in 30-3-103. The court may, in is discretion for good cause shown, reduce the forty-five day period. The affiant shall make bond equal to the value of the decedent’s estate to be administered. However, bond shall not be required if the provisions of 30-1-201 would not so require. These estates will automatically close after two (2) years from the date of the original filing with the clerk or the court may enter an order to close the estate provided a receipt evidencing payment of the inheritance tax paid or none due and an affidavit that each debt of the decedent has been paid.

Filing Fees

Filing a claim = $11.00

Opening an Estate = $360.00

Closing an estate = $40.00

Conservatorship = $185.00

Small Estates = $85.00

Muniment Title = $271.05


Click here to download a Probate Court summary

Click here to download a form to file a claim against an estate.