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How a beneficiary’s death may impact how a probate case unfolds

It’s seldom easy for someone to cope with the death of a loved one. The loss of a beneficiary amid the probate process may compound the grief and other emotions that you feel. An heir’s passing may add an extra layer of complexity to an already challenging probate process.

What is the probate process?

The executor of a testator’s estate files that person’s will with the probate court when they pass away. Any potential heir or beneficiary may open up a case if their loved one dies without having drafted a will. A judge will generally appoint an executor to administer the latter cases. It’s their responsibility to file the decedent’s final tax return, settle up with their creditors and ultimately distribute any remaining assets they may have as per their will or Tennessee intestate succession laws.

What happens when beneficiaries die during the probate process?

The probate process can last anywhere from a few months to several years. A lot can change during that time frame, including the death of a beneficiary or heir.

What happens with a beneficiary’s inheritance should they die before the conclusion of a probate case is much the same as if any other testator passes away. What’s left of their estate ends up being divided up among their heirs as per their will or intestate succession laws.

There are instances in which a decedent’s will may contain a survivorship clause. If it does, then a beneficiary may only pass on an inheritance that they receive if they survive for a certain amount of time following a decedent’s death. Surviving beneficiaries may end up receiving a larger share of the estate than they initially anticipated if a survivorship clause makes a deceased beneficiary ineligible to receive their inheritance.

How to proceed following a beneficiary’s death

One of the more unexpected things that can occur during the probate process is for a beneficiary to die. It can be challenging for an executor to determine how to carry out their responsibilities if this happens, as it’s such a rare occurrence here in Memphis. A probate and estate planning attorney can guide you through the steps that you’ll need to take so that you don’t expose yourself to any unnecessary liability in your Tennessee case.