Tennessee Probate Form

Fiduciary Instructions

Everything you need to know about Tennessee Form Fiduciary Instructions, including helpful tips, fast facts & deadlines, how to fill it out, where to submit it and other related TN probate forms.

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About Fiduciary Instructions

There are all sorts of forms executors, beneficiaries, and probate court clerks have to fill out and correspond with during probate and estate settlement, including affidavits, letters, petitions, summons, orders, and notices.

Fiduciary Instructions is a commonly used form within Tennessee. Here’s an overview of what the form is and means, including a breakdown of the situations when (or why) you may need to use it:

Atticus Fast Facts About Fiduciary Instructions

Sometimes it’s tough to find a quick summary— here’s the important details you should know about Fiduciary Instructions:

  • This form pertains to the State of Tennessee

Government forms are not typically updated often, though when they are, it often happens rather quietly. While Atticus works hard to keep this information about Tennessee’s Form Fiduciary Instructions up to date, certain details can change from time-to-time with little or no communication.

How to file Form Fiduciary Instructions

Step 1 - Download the correct Tennessee form based on the name and ID if applicable

Double check that you have both the correct form name and the correct form ID. Some Tennessee probate forms can look remarkably similar, so it’s best to double, even triple-check that you’re using the right one! Keep in mind that not all States have a standardized Form ID system for their probate forms.

Step 2 - Complete the Document

Fill out all relevant fields in Form Fiduciary Instructions, take a break, and then review. Probate and estate settlement processes in TN are long enough to begin with, and making a silly error can push your timeline even farther back. No thank you!

Note: If you don’t currently know all of the answers and are accessing Form Fiduciary Instructions online, be sure to avoid closing the browser tab and potentially losing all your progress (or use a platform like Atticus to help avoid making mistakes).

Step 3 - Have Form witnessed or notarized (if required)

Some States and situations require particular forms to be notarized. If you have been instructed to get the document notarized or see it in writing on the document, then make sure to hire a local notary. There are max notary fees in the United States that are defined and set by local law. Take a look at our full guide to notary fees to make sure you aren’t overpaying or getting ripped off.

Step 4 - Submit Fiduciary Instructions to the relevant office

This is most often the local probate court where the decedent (person who passed away) is domiciled (permanently resides) or the institution involved with this particular form (e.g. a bank). Some offices allow you to submit forms online, other’s don’t, and we while we generally recommend going in-person to expedite the process, sometimes that simply isn’t an option.

It’s also a generally good idea to establish a positive working relationship with any probate clerk (unfortunately there’s enough people & process out there making things more difficult and unnecessarily confusing for them), so a best practice is to simply ask the probate clerk proactively exactly how and where they’d prefer you to submit all forms.

Need help getting in touch with a local probate court or identifying a domicile probate jurisdiction?

👉 Find and Contact your Local Probate Court

👉 What is a Domicile Jurisdiction?

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When Fiduciary Instructions is due

Different probate forms or processes can require different deadlines or response times for completing the appropriate form.

While some steps in the process are bound to specific deadlines (like petitioning for probate, having to submit an inventory of assets, or filing applicable notices to creditors and beneficiaries), many probate forms or processes are not tied to a specific deadline since the scope of work can vary based on situational factors or requirements involved.

Either way, there are a bunch of practical reasons why personal representatives should work to complete each step as thoroughly and quickly as possible when completing probate in Tennessee.

5 reasons you should submit this form as quickly as possible:

  1. The sooner you begin, the faster Tennessee can allow heirs and beneficiaries to get their share of assets subject to probate. Acting promptly can also decrease the costs & overall mental fatigue through an otherwise burdensome process.

    Helpful Context: What’s the Difference Between Probate and Non-Probate Assets?

  2. In general, creditors of an estate usually have around 3-6 months from the time you file notice to creditors to file any claims for debt against the deceased’s assets. If they don’t, then that debt is forfeited (and more importantly, the executor won’t be held personally responsible). So doing this sooner means you have a better idea of who is owed what and ensures you won’t get a surprise collector months later.

  3. Not filing a will within 30 days (on average) could mean that the probate process proceeds according to intestate laws (laws that govern what happens to someone's stuff without a will) or is subject to unnecessary supervision by the probate court. And if you aren't directly related to the deceased (a.k.a. next of kin), this could also mean you lose your inheritance.

  4. It’s important to file any necessary state tax returns on behalf of the deceased or estate by the following tax season in Tennessee. If you don’t, you could owe penalties and interest. This also includes any necessary federal tax returns such as Forms 1040, 1041, or even a Form 706 estate tax return.

  5. If a house in the State of Tennessee is left empty (or abandoned) for a while, insurance can get dicey. For example, if the house burns down and no one has been there for a year, an insurance company may get out of paying your claim.

If you’re not using Atticus to get specific forms, deadlines, and timelines for Tennessee probate, then try and stay as organized as possible, pay close attention to the dates mentioned in any correspondence you have with the State’s government officials, call the local Tennessee probate clerk or court for exact answers regarding Form Fiduciary Instructions, and when in doubt— consult a qualified trust & estates lawyer for that area.

How to Download, Open, and Edit this form Online

Fiduciary Instructions is one of the many probate court forms available for download through Atticus.

It may also be available through some Tennessee probate court sites, such as . In order to access the latest version, be updated with any revisions, and get full instructions on how to complete each form, check out the Atticus Probate & Estate Settlement software or consider hiring a qualified legal expert locally within Tennessee.

While Atticus automatically provides the latest forms, be sure to choose the correct version of Form Fiduciary Instructions f using any other site or resource in order to avoid having to re-complete the form process and/or make another trip to the Tennessee probate court office.

Fiduciary Instructions is a .pdf, so opening it should be as simple as clicking “View Form” from within the Atticus app or by clicking the appropriate link found on any Tennessee-provided government platform. Once you’ve opened the form, you should be able to directly edit the form before saving or printing.

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Did you know?

  • Form Fiduciary Instructions is a probate form in Tennessee.

  • Tennessee has multiple types of probate and the necessary forms depend on the unique aspects of each estate, such as type and value of assets, whether there was a valid will, who is serving as the personal representative or executor, and even whether or not they also live in Tennessee.

  • During probate, all personal representatives and executives in are required to submit a detailed inventory of assets that must separate non-probate assets from probate assets.

  • Probate in Tennessee, especially without guidance, can take years to finish and cost upwards of $14,000.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fiduciary Instructions

Probate is the government’s way of making sure that when a person dies, the right stuff goes to the right people (including the taxes the government wants).

All of that stuff is collectively known as someone’s “estate”, and it’s the job of the executor or personal representative to fill out all the forms and complete all the required steps to formally dissolve the estate. 

To get instant clarity on the entire probate process and get an idea of the steps, timeline, and best practices, read the Atticus Beginner’s Guide to Probate

The best place? Create an account in Atticus to start getting estate-specific advice. 

You may need a lawyer, you may not, and paying for one when you didn’t need it really hurts. Atticus makes sure you make  the best decisions (plus you can write it off as an executor expense).

We’ve also created a list of other probate services. Be sure to check it out!

An executor is named in someone’s will, and if the deceased didn’t have a will, then the spouse or other close family relative usually steps up to fulfill the role. If no one wants to do it, then a judge will appoint someone. 

The executor is responsible for the complete management of the probate process, including major responsibilities such as:

  • Creating an inventory of all probate assets.

  • Filling out all necessary forms

  • Paying off all estate debts and taxes

  • Submitting reports to the court and beneficiaries as requested

And much more. This process often stretches longer than a year. 

For an idea of what separates executors who succeed from those who make this way harder than it should be, visit our article, Executors of an Estate:
What they do & secrets to succeeding

The Exact Text on Form Fiduciary Instructions

Here’s the text, verbatim, that is found on Tennessee Form Fiduciary Instructions. You can use this to get an idea of the context of the form and what type of information is needed.

Revised 5/13/14 1 Procedural Information Only Conservator/Guardianship Matters This procedural information packet is provided to assist you with procedural filing requirements for the Clerk’s Office. The information provided pertains to procedural matters affecting this office only so you must consult with your attorney to discuss the full statutory procedures you must perform as the Court- appointed Fiduciary. The Clerk’s Office is prohibited from discussing legal issues; therefore, call your attorney with any legal questions – rather than the Clerk’s Office. Since this information packet only contains general procedural requirements for the Clerk’s Office, you should always keep your attorney informed of situations which may arise during your tenure as Fiduciary. Fiduciary Appointment in Court Upon being appointed as a Fiduciary in Court, you will be charged and responsible for performing certain duties. Your attorney will discuss these duties and authority with you – make sure you understand them completely. In addition, consult with your attorney if you have questions about anything that took place in Court. The following paperwork is required: Property Management Plan (form located on Probate Clerk’s Website) During the Court hearing when you are appointed as Fiduciary, a Property Management Plan will be presented to the Court. The Property Management Plan will have been reviewed and recommended by the Guardian Ad Litem. Upon approval of the Court, it will detail the financial plan that you must abide by while performing the duties of Fiduciary. (NOTE: This may be specifically waived by Court Order) Fiduciary Oath (provided by Clerk’s Office) Immediately after the Judge appoints you in Court, you must appear in the Clerk’s office and sign your Fiduciary Oath stating that you will properly perform your duties as Conservator to the best of your ability. Surety Bond (form located on Probate Clerk’s Website) If the Court has ordered a Surety Bond, you should sign the Corporate Surety Bond form (also known as the Bond Book) when you come to the Clerk’s Office and you must make arrangements to secure the Bond. Securing a Bond typically involves a check of your past credit history. If you have any concerns about the Bond, discuss those with your attorney. Letters (provided by Clerk’s Office) Once you have been appointed, signed the Oath and posted the Surety Bond (if required), the Clerk’s Office will issue you a legal instrument called Letters. The Letters evidences your authority to act on behalf of the Ward. Revised 5/13/14 2 Filings Required D uring Your Tenure as Fiduciary There are several filings that you will be required to file with the Probate Clerk’s Office within a certain timeframe. Your attorney should have provided an e-mail address with the Petition that was filed. If your email address was provided, our office will send you an email reminder with a list of the forms due thirty (30) days before your Probate filing is due. If your e-mail address was not provided to the Clerk’s Office, submit it to our office so you will receive these helpful reminder emails. Timeframes for filing  Inventory – 60 days from appointment.  Interim Accounting – 30 days after the 6 month date of your appointment.  Annual Accounting – 30 days after the 12 month date of filing your Interim Accounting.  Annual Status Report – 12 months from Appointment and thereafter, 12 months after filing the previous Annual Status Report. (Annual Status Reports are required if Accountings are waived.) Inventory with Certificate of Service (forms located on Probate Clerk’s Website) Unless specifically waived by Court Order, within 60 days of your appointment as Fiduciary, you must file an Inventory of the Respondent’s assets. The Inventory must be timely filed with the Probate Clerk’s Office and a copy must be mailed to all interested parties of the Respondent’s estate with a Certificate of Service. If the Inventory is not timely filed, the law requires the Clerk to issue you a Notice of delinquency in filing the Inventory and thereafter, you may be summoned to Court to answer why the required Inventory has not been filed. Accountings Unless specifically waived by Court Order, an Interim Accounting and thereafter, Annual Accountings shall be due during your tenure as Fiduciary. There are several forms and documents which must be filed for the Interim and Annual Accountings. It is important you are aware that we are not allowed to accept Accountings by fax and Incomplete Accountings will not be accepted. Therefore, you should access the Accounting Checklist which includes specific instructions and a list of all forms located on the Probate Clerk’s website at http://circuitclerk.nashville.gov/probate/probateforms.asp under the Forms tab. Interim Accounting Your first Accounting (Interim Accounting) must be filed with the Clerk within thirty (30) days after the six (6) month date of your appointment by the Court. Annual Accounting Your Annual Accounting must be filed with the Clerk within thirty (30) days after the twelve (12) month date of your Interim Accounting. Annual Status Reports If the Court has waived the requirement for filing Accountings by Court Order, you will be required to file an Annual Status Report within thirty (30) days after the six(6) month date of your Appointment and thereafter, within thirty (30) days after the twelve (12) month date of filing your previous Annual Status Report. REMINDERS Revised 5/13/14 3 Regarding Your Fiduciary Duties These basic reminders cover the general concept of your duties as Fiduciary. Any questions you may have about this information should be directed to your attorney and not the Probate Master or Clerk’s Office. • Keep in mind that your new title as Conservator or Guardian requires you to conserve and guard the assets of the Ward – and that you will ultimately account to the Court for your actions. • As Fiduciary, you are responsible for paying all just debts of the Ward and collecting all monies and receivables due the Ward. It is also your responsibility to appear, or make arrangements for someone else to appear, to defend the Ward’s rights as they pertain to your designated duties. • If your responsibilities include managing the Ward’s financial affairs, you will be held to a high degree of accountability when reporting to the Court for your actions. You may want to seek professional assistance with setting up accounts and planning for the Ward’s future – but you should definitely seek professional assistance when filing Tax Returns on behalf of the Ward. • You must maintain separate bank account(s) for all funds of the Ward and never co- mingle these funds with any of your own. If you are the Guardian for a minor, you are not accountable to the Court for any funds you personally give the minor so you should keep those funds separate and apart from the actual Guardianship funds. • Never encroach upon the Ward’s funds for any extraordinary expenditure (usually over $1,000) without Court approval. All expenditures must be deemed reasonable and necessary by the Court. Therefore, unless an expense has already been anticipated and approved by the Court, it may be necessary to seek Court approval. • To avoid questionable Accountings, keep all receipts for purchases made on behalf of the Ward and be sure each receipt specifically details the expenditure. These receipts should be included with your Accounting – especially if the expenditure will not be easily recognized by the Court. Other interested parties may also request to review the receipts. • Never use cashier’s checks or make a check payable to “Cash.” A Debit Card should only be used if the monthly statements provided by your bank include the specific name of each transaction payee – and always retain receipts. If your Property Management Plan does not allow for the use of a Debit Card (estimating the weekly or monthly usage), it must be amended. • Periodic charitable donations and/or tithing on behalf of the Ward should also be included in the Property Management Plan. • If you are using an online banking printout as your Accounting Register, it must include transaction dates, check numbers, payees, transaction amounts, and the nature of each transaction. If your online banking system does not allow you to “memo” the nature of Revised 5/13/14 4 the transaction and it is not something easily recognized by the Court, you must “handwrite” it on the Register. • Simply copying online bank statements will not serve as a replacement for your Accounting Register. However, most online banking services include various software formats that allow you to convert the online statement to an Accounting Register for printing. Be sure to check and see if this option is available through your bank. Some banks will also waive any extra fees for providing the original statements if they are aware it’s for the purpose of filing an Accounting with the Court. • List all checks numerically in the Accounting Register, including any voided, missing or omitted checks – as missing and omitted checks will cause an Accounting to be disallowed. • Remember that you are the ultimate overseer of the Ward’s financial affairs so it is important that you take all necessary precautions to prevent fraud and/or identity theft. • It usually takes thirty (30) to sixty (60) days for Accountings to be reviewed and approved for recording. However, an Accounting may be set for a review hearing if it contains certain deficiencies. • The Clerk’s Office does not have the authority or ability to extend the time for filing an Inventory, Accounting or Annual Status Report. If an extension is necessary, your attorney must file a Motion with the Court requesting such an extension. Other Items of Interest As to Material Changes in the Ward’s Physical/Mental Condition: As Fiduciary, you have an affirmative duty to inform the Court of any material changes in the Ward’s condition that might warrant a modification or dissolution of the Conservatorship/Guardianship. For example......if the Ward expresses to you a desire to dissolve the Conservatorship, it is your responsibility to inform the Court accordingly. If the Ward expresses a desire to modify or terminate the Conservatorship/Guardianship but has not seen a physician in an extended period of time, it is appropriate for you to have him/her examined by a physician with respect to the conditions for which the Conservatorship/Guardianship was initially obtained. If the physician informs you that the condition for which the Conservatorship/Guardianship was established has improved or is no longer disabling the Ward to such an extent that the Conservatorship/Guardianship remains necessary, you must inform the Court immediately and the Court will set a hearing. If you have an attorney, you should contact him/her to assist you with this matter. If you are no longer represented by counsel, this communication may be made directly with the Court at which time the Court will set a hearing by issuing an Order. As to the Property Management Plan: As Fiduciary, you are responsible for managing the assets of the Ward to the best of your ability and judgment – always acting in the Ward’s best interest. The Property Management Plan adopted by the Court at your hearing detailed the types of investments planned on the Ward’s behalf and various other issues. Any changes in this Plan must be approved by the Court. For example......if the Plan calls for investments to be held in Revised 5/13/14 5 Certificates of Deposit, changing from one bank to another bank for better rates does not require Court approval; however, changing the type of investment – such as going from a Certificate of Deposit to a traded stock – would require Court approval. You may make any changes regarding management of the Ward’s assets by filing a revised Property Management Plan at the time your Accounting is due. As to Gifting: You should never pay for gifts out of the Ward’s assets without specific Court approval. This would include gifts for the Ward, gifts to caregivers, and gifts to the Ward’s family members and friends for birthdays and other special occasions. If gifting is allowed by specific Court Order, please note that information next to the transaction on your Accounting Register. As to Events: You cannot use the Ward’s assets to pay for family functions and outings such as family get-togethers, reunions, holidays, funerals, or any other event – family-related or not. This would also include catered events that are held by some families following a death. As to the Ward’s Real Property: As Fiduciary, you cannot make arrangements to sell any real property without specific Court approval. Your attorney must file the proper Petition with the Court requesting such a sale. The Court may then, in its discretion, appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate the sale of any real property. This process may take several weeks and will result in an increase to the amount of your Surety Bond. As to the Ward’s Personal Property: As Fiduciary, you should seek legal advice before selling or discarding any personal property. No purchase of the Ward’s property may be made by you or your attorney or any relative, by the Guardian Ad Litem, or any other close acquaintance of the Ward without specific Court approval – thus avoiding any conflict of interest. This also extends to any services these individuals may provide to the Ward for which they might expect compensation. For example......if you or your family members are moving the Ward’s assets, you should never expect to be compensated from those assets without specific approval of the Court. As to Encroachments: Should it become necessary for you to encroach upon the funds or assets of the Ward for anything other than what has already been approved by the Court, you must first petition the Court to allow for the encroachment. Remember – it is your duty to preserve the Ward’s assets and guard against any unnecessary expenses for the care and maintenance of the Ward. As to Investments: Your basic function as Fiduciary is not to make money for the Ward – but rather to “conserve” his or her assets. As to Employing Professionals: In the event you find it necessary to employ professionals such as CPA’s, financial advisors, tax consultants, etc., you must seek Court approval if these services have never been approved by the Court in the past. As to Fees: You should always consult your attorney regarding compensation for fees incurred performing your duties as Conservator or Guardian. Court approval is always required before any fees can be disbursed from the Ward’s assets. Revised 5/13/14 6 As to Final Settlement: You must prepare and file a Final Settlement of your Fiduciary accounts upon the death or restoration of the Ward’s rights (as Conservator) or upon the Ward reaching the age of majority (as Guardian). A Final Settlement may be waived if the Annual Accountings were previously waived by the Court. Check with your attorney to determine whether you are required to open an Estate. As to Removal as Fiduciary: Be aware that you can be removed as Fiduciary at any time the Court determines you are not properly performing your duties. Should you ever wish to resign as Fiduciary, you must first file the proper petition with the Clerk. A hearing will be set before the Court and you will be required to file a Final Settlement of your Fiduciary accounts. As to Court Costs: Court costs are due and payable at the time any pleadings or other Court documents are filed. These Court costs and fees are subject to change without notice but are determined by statute – not by the Clerk. Court costs will continue to accrue for as long as the matter remains open. As to Statutory and Court-Ordered Deadlines: It is very important that you realize this office is charged and authorized by the Court to continually monitor its cases. Your failure to timely perform certain duties may result in Notices and/or Citations to Appear being mailed or served on you and will result in additional cost and fees. The Court may also issue an Order for Show Cause requiring you to appear and explain your failure to perform certain duties. Your failure to properly account for the assets placed in your charge could result in the Court ordering a judgment against you for the value of those assets – making you personally responsible! The Court costs for these actions may also be assessed against you. As to Other Issues: There are many issues related to your duties as Fiduciary which cannot be fully detailed in this Procedural guide. Even though the information we have provided in this guide may appear to be quite substantial, there are numerous other issues – both legal and non- legal – which are not discussed here. As to Other Duties: Remember that all documents filed with our office should be photocopied and mailed or delivered to all interested parties in this matter. All correspondence with our office should be written and must include the docket/case number. You are required to notify this office of any and all address changes. Our contact information is as follows: Probate Court Clerk Room 303, Historic Courthouse One Public Square Nashville, TN 37201 (615) 862-5980 http://circuitclerk.nashville.gov/probate

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