• A New Procedure for Appointing Commissioners to Partition Property in Tennessee
  • June 20, 2016 | Author: C.E. Hunter Brush
  • Law Firm: Butler Snow LLP - Nashville Office
  • Generally, any person that has an ownership interest in property in which one or more other persons also have an interest may bring an action to divide the property or to sell the property and have the proceeds therefrom divided. Such an action may arise when several children inherit equal interests in a piece of property but do not desire to share the whole of the property. Until recently, after a Court entered a judgment of partition, the Court then appointed “three (3) or more respectable freeholders, any three (3) of whom may perform the duty,” to make the partition in accordance with the decree of the Court. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-27-114(a) (2015). As of May 20, 2016, however, the procedure for appointing commissioners to partition real or personal property in Tennessee has changed. Specifically, the new law states:

    Upon the filing of a suit for partition of property, real or personal, the parties shall submit the names of three (3) commissioners selected and agreed upon by the parties. If the parties are unable to agree, the judge shall appoint three (3) commissioners, known by the court or show to the court to be of good personal character and integrity and knowledgeable in the type of property to be partitioned.

    2016 Tenn. Pub. Acts 1527. The Tennessee General Assembly passed this law in order to give the parties more control over the persons charged with actually dividing the parties’ property.

    However, because the new law appears to require that the parties attempt to agree upon three (3) commissioners before the Court renders any judgment of partition, a defendant disputing a plaintiff’s right to a partition may be placed in an awkward position. While the nuances of this new procedure are worked out by the courts, the best course of action will be for the defendant to comply with the new procedure in good faith and, if an agreement is reached, ensure that any submittal to the Court clearly preserves the defendant’s right to dispute the partition. If an agreement is not reached, the new law appears to provide the parties an opportunity to submit suggested commissioners to the Court. Such a submission should show that the suggested commissioners are “of good personal character and integrity and knowledgeable in the type of property to be partitioned.” 2016 Tenn. Pub. Acts 1527.