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What Happens If You Die Without a Will in Tennessee?

Many Americans do not have a will in place to dictate where their assets would go or who would handle their affairs once they pass away. If you pass away and do not leave behind a will, the legal term for this is called dying “intestate.”

There are Tennessee probate laws when no will exists at the time of their death. These intestacy laws will designate how a person’s property is distributed, providing direction to the probate court. 

Sitting down to discuss the details of what should happen when you die may not be enjoyable, but you should think of it as necessary. If you have not completed your will yet, you are not alone. A recent poll showed that 6 in 10 of American adults have not made a will or living trust. Here is what happens in different situations with intestacy succession laws in Tennessee.

Intestate Succession Laws in Tennessee

Surviving Spouse and/or Descendants

  • If you leave behind both a spouse and children or other decedents, your spouse will receive either one-third of the estate or the descendants receive an equal share of the whole probate estate, whichever is greater. The descendants will inherit the balance.
  • If you leave behind a spouse and no descendants, your spouse will inherit the entire probate estate.
  • The same is true when there are descendants but no spouse, the descendants will inherit the entire probate estate. 

No Surviving Spouse or Descendants

  • If one or both of your parents are still alive, they will inherit your probate estate. If both are still alive they will inherit an equal share of the estate, otherwise the one surviving parent will inherit the whole estate.
  • If you are survived by siblings or the descendants of any siblings, they will inherit your probate estate.
  • If you pass away and are not survived by parents, siblings or the descendants of siblings, half your estate will go to your paternal family and the other half to your maternal family.
  • If there are no surviving members on on one side of the family, the other side will receive 100 percent of the probate estate.

If you die without leaving a will that provides information about your final wishes, then your property may be distributed in a way you do not agree with. Wills are not something to be done far into the future. A will is your final gift to your loved ones, you should want to do it now.

For more information on Tennessee inheritance and estate law, reach out to Murfree & Goodman today.

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