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If a Tennessee resident dies without having any estate planning tools in place, some or all of their assets may pass into the probate courts of the state. During the probate process, the assets of the decedent are located, debts are paid and distribution is made based on certain laws and procedural requirements. Though probate is intended to allow for the orderly distribution of assets to heirs after a death, it can be time consuming, costly and can dwindle the wealth of an estate.

Therefore, many people try to keep as much of their property out of probate as they can. This can be accomplished in many different ways depending upon the types of assets the individuals possess.

For example, real property may be owned jointly with another party; upon the death of one of the parties, certain joint ownership arrangements may allow the other owner to take over ownership of the entire parcel without having the decedent’s interest go through probate.

Additionally, certain retirement and investment accounts may offer individuals payable on death or transferable on death options. These options allow individuals to name beneficiaries during their lifetimes. Then, when the individuals pass on, their account assets are given directly to their beneficiaries without the hassle of first going through probate.

These are only a few of the ways that Tennessee residents can avoid probate and preserve the value of their end of life estates. It is important that everyone gets their own advice on how best to create an estate plan that serves their interests. Estate planning attorneys are therefore excellent resources for those readers who are prepared to begin the estate planning process.