TN 14 (10-14)
GN 02315.081 Tennessee — Small Estates
A. Policy — Tennessee small estates
1. Definition of small estate under Tennessee code
Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 30-4-102(5) (2014), a small estate means the estate of a decedent in which the value of the property does not exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).
2. Estate administration — Tennessee
Whenever a decedent leaves a small estate, it may be administered in the following manner: after the expiration of forty-five (45) days from the date of decedent’s death (the court may, for good cause shown, reduce the 45-day period), provided no petition for the appointment of a personal representative of the decedent has been filed, one (1) or more of the decedent’s competent, adult legatees or devisees or personal representatives named in the decedent’s will, if a will was left, or heirs or next of kin, if no will was left, or in either a testate or intestate estate, any creditor proving such creditor’s debt on oath before the court, shall file an affidavit with the clerk of the court. Tenn. Code Ann. §30-4-103(1) (2014)
3. Contents of the affidavit — Tennessee
The affidavit must show the following:
Whether or not decedent left a will, and if so, a copy of the will must be filed with the affidavit; and
A list of unpaid debts by decedent and the name and address of each creditor and the amount due that creditor; and
An itemized description and the value of all of decedent’s property, the names and addresses of all persons known to have possession of any of decedent’s property, and a schedule of all insurance on decedent’s life payable to decedent’s estate; and
The name, age, address and relationship, if any, of each devisee, legatee or heir entitled to receive any of decedent’s property.
4. Form of the affidavit — Tennessee
The form of the affidavit shall disclose that the affiant evidences by signature that, subject to the penalty for perjury, the affidavit is not false or misleading and that the affiant is mindful of all duties imposed upon the affiant under Tennessee’s Small Estates law. No clerk or assistant shall be liable as a result of services rendered to the affiant in good faith in completing the affidavit based upon information furnished by the affiant under Tenn. Code Ann. § 30-4-103(1)(B).
5. Delivery of affidavit— liability and release from liability
a. When to pay, transfer, and deliver property
Every person indebted to the decedent’s estate, or having possession of any property belonging to the estate, or acting as registrar or transfer agent of any shares of stock, bonds, notes or other evidence of ownership, indebtedness, property or right belonging to decedent’s estate shall be furnished a copy of the affidavit by the affiant, duly certified to by the clerk of the court, and upon receipt of the copy of affidavit, and upon demand of the affiant, shall pay, transfer and deliver to affiant all such indebtedness owing by and other property in possession of or subject to registration and/or transfer by, the person to whom the copy of the affidavit has been delivered.
b. Release from liability
Every person making payment, transfer or delivery of property belonging to a decedent’s estate to the affiant pursuant to the provisions of Tennessee’s Small Estates law shall be released and discharged from all further liability to the estate and its creditors to the same extent as if such payment, transfer or delivery were made to the duly appointed, qualified and acting personal representative of the decedent, and the person making such payment, transfer or delivery shall not be required to see to the application thereof or to inquire into the truth or completeness of any statement in the affidavit.
c. Distribution of property and liability
If decedent left a will, the decedent’s property shall be distributed as provided therein, and if the decedent left no will it shall go to the decedent’s heirs as provided by law in case of other intestacies, and both the affiant and the person to whom payment, transfer or delivery of any such property is made by affiant shall be and remain liable, to the extent of the value of the property so received, to unpaid creditors of decedent and to every other person having a prior claim against decedent’s estate or prior rights to any of decedent’s property, and also shall be accountable to any personal representative of the decedent thereafter appointed.
d. Refusing to pay, transfer, or deliver property
If any person having possession of any of decedent’s property, upon receipt of a copy of the affidavit certified by the clerk, refuses to pay, transfer or deliver the property to or at the direction of the affiant, the property may be recovered or transfer and delivery thereof compelled in an action brought in any court of competent jurisdiction for that purpose upon proof of the facts required to be stated in the affidavit, and costs of the proceeding shall be adjudged against a person wrongfully refusing to pay, transfer or deliver the property under Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 30-4-102, 30-4-103, 30-4-104.