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Debtor and creditor notice requirements for the administration of a Tennessee probate estate.

Posted on Jul 1 2013 9:50PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Tennessee law requires the provision of notice to debtors and creditors after an individual dies and a probate estate is opened.  T.C.A. § 30-2-306 requires the personal representative (the Executor, Executrix or Administrator of the probate estate) to provide notice to all creditors with "whom the personal representative has actual knowledge or who are reasonably ascertainable by the personal representative, at the creditor's last known address."  The complete requirements are listed in T.C.A. § 30-2-306(d) which provides as follows:

 

(d) In addition, it shall be the duty of the personal representative to mail or deliver by other means a copy of the published or posted notice as described in subsection (b) to all creditors of the decedent of whom the personal representative has actual knowledge or who are reasonably ascertainable by the personal representative, at the creditors' last known addresses. This notice shall not be required where a creditor has already filed a claim against the estate, has been paid or has issued a release of all claims against the estate.

 

Additionally, the clerk of the court where the estate is administered is required to provide public notice to creditors and debtors within 30 days after the issuance of letters testamentary or administration.  This notice is to be provided in a newspaper or public place pursuant to the statute.  The specifics of T.C.A. § 30-2-306(a) are as follows:

 

(a) Except as provided in subsection (e), it is the duty of the clerk of the court in which an estate is being administered, within thirty (30) days after the issuance of letters testamentary or of administration, to give, in the name of the personal representative of the estate, public notice of the personal representative's qualification as such by two (2) consecutive weekly notices published in some newspaper of the county in which letters testamentary or of administration are granted, or, if no newspaper is published in that county, by written notices posted in three (3) public places in the county, one (1) of which shall be posted at the usual place for posting notices at the courthouse.

 

This statute makes it clear that it is the duty of the personal representative to identify known creditors and to investigate potential creditors of the estate.  This does not require a search to the ends of the earth, but does require a reasonable search to locate creditors and debtors of the deceased.  As a result, it is important for the personal representative to review financial records of the deceased and to look at mail that comes to the deceased after death in order to attempt to ascertain all creditors or debtors of the deceased to satisfy the notice requirements.  This is an important duty of the personal representative and the personal representative can be found personally responsible for certain debts if they do not put creditors on notice if the personal representative had actual knowledge of their existence. See Burke v. Langdon, 190 S.W.3d 660 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2005).

 

T.C.A. § 30-2-306 further provides that all claims of creditors are forever barred unless they file a claim within four months of the date of first publication of the notice (as long as the creditor received an actual copy of the notice at least 60 days prior to the end of the four month period).  In the alternative, if the creditor received notice within 60 days of the four month cutoff (following the date of first publication), then the creditor has 60 days from the date the creditor actually received a copy of het notice.  In any event, the absolute cutoff under T.C.A. § 30-2-306 is a creditor's claim will be forever barred if not filed within twelve months after the decedent's date of death.

 

Follow me on Twitter at @jasonalee for updates from the Tennessee Wills and Estates blog.

TAGS: Probate Process, Creditor claims, Notice Requirements, Tennessee Probate Law
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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. Contact Jason at 615-540-1004 or jlee@burrowlee.com for an initial consultation on wills estate planning and probate issues.

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Tennessee Wills and Estates Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
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Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com

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