Notifying Creditors (Notice to Creditors)

What is a Notice To Creditors?

A legal notice of the opening of the estate called a “notice to creditors” will be published for two consecutive weeks in a local newspaper. This is required in Tennessee when an estate is opened with the probate court, even if the decedent had no creditors. There is a four month period in which any creditor may file a claim against the estate. Tennessee law requires that the personal representative, or his or her attorney, send a copy of the notice to creditors to all known creditors of the estate. If the personal representative fails to give a copy of the notice to creditors to any known creditor, then such known creditor may be granted additional time (beyond the usual four months) in which to file a claim against the estate.

Inventory, Accountings & Status Reports

As personal representative, you will need to identify all of the assets owned by the decedent and provide this information to your advisors. For each asset, you will need to determine 1) the fair market value as of the date of death, 2) whether the asset was owned solely by the decedent or jointly by the decedent and one or more other persons, and 3) whether the asset was payable to one or more named beneficiaries as the result of the decedent’s death. Your legal and tax advisors must receive this information promptly because they must use this information when completing the estate inventory and Tennessee inheritance tax and federal estate tax returns for the estate.

An estate inventory of the probate assets must be filed within 60 days of the date that the estate was opened. The probate court will typically waive the filing of an estate inventory if the decedent left a will waiving this requirement, or if all of the residuary beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate consent to the inventory being waived. Even if a formal inventory is waived by the probate court you should still maintain an informal inventory of the estate assets as part of your responsibility to keep complete and accurate records regarding estate matters. If a formal inventory is required it must list all probate assets. Probate assets are assets owned solely in the decedent’s name at the time of death (not jointly owned assets and not assets that are payable to a designated person as the beneficiary). An attorney will assist you in preparing an inventory and filing it with the probate court if one is required.

Under Tennessee law a written accounting of the estate assets must be filed with the probate court within 15 months after the date that the estate was opened. Additional accountings must be filed with the probate court annually thereafter as long as the estate remains open. Usually the probate court will waive the requirement of filing annual accountings if the decedent left a will waiving accountings or if all of the residuary beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate are competent adults and have consented to the accountings being waived. Even if annual accountings have been waived it may be necessary to file a final accounting of the assets of the estate when officially closing the estate with the probate court. This also depends on whether or not all residuary beneficiaries are competent adults and agree to waive a final accounting. An attorney will assist you in preparing any necessary accountings.

In some Tennessee counties near Nashville and Brentwood, such as Davidson and Williamson counties, an estate status report must be filed with the probate court within one year after the date that the estate is opened. Additional estate status reports must be filed with the probate court annually thereafter so long as the estate remains open. Again, your attorney will assist you in preparing and filing with the probate court any necessary estate status reports.