Tennessee is divided into 31 judicial districts. In each of those districts, there are both Circuit Courts and Chancery Courts. In some districts, the General Assembly has also chosen to split out divisions for probate called Probate Courts. These courts have limited jurisdiction over probate issues.
Judges of Probate Courts are elected into office and serve eight-year terms. The types of cases solved by Probate Courts are all probate matters including wills, trusts, name changes, the administration of estates, conservatorships, and guardianships as well. These courts can also handle civil appeals from other courts. There are eight Probate Court judges in Tennessee. Some of them share time with different courts like Circuit Courts, Criminal Courts, and Chancery Courts.
The Tennessee State Courts website has many resources for patrons of the Probate Court system. For Clerks who serve Probate Courts, there is a special manual they can download to familiarize themselves with the types of cases, rules of the court, the process, all forms and documents required and other guidance. The same website offers legal assistance in the form of publications, news from all the courts, a list and contact information for all judges and court clerks. Additional links, reports, and resources are also available upon request. They even have a self-help center designed around the most common types of cases. For Probate Courts they provide a long list of Clerks and Masters, for each region. They are listed alphabetically, or someone can use the search feature.
On average, Probate Courts see about 5,632 cases per year. Of those cases, most (3,130) is for probate and trusts, 1,535 are for different civil actions, 936 are conservatorship and guardianship cases, and 31 are for mental health cases where a person has to be involuntarily committed to a mental institution.