Under certain circumstances, a Tennessee probate court can, on its own initiative, issue an order closing an “old and cold” probate estate. The criteria for closing the estate in this manner are as follows:

  • The estate has been open for at least 18 months; 
  • The personal representative has not completed administration of the estate;
  • The estate could have been administered during the time in question; and
  • No order of disposition has been entered.
In addition, the court must give notice to the personal representative, the attorney for the estate, and the beneficiaries of the estate. 
Technically, the court “dismisses” the estate, rather than closing it, but the effect appears to be the same. The dismissal does not invalidate any previous order of the probate court. Moreover, the dismissal is without prejudice, meaning that the estate can be re-opened later if necessary.