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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.” In Tennessee, there are laws to designate how a person’s property is distributed if there is no will at the time of their death. These laws provide direction to the probate court who will handle the distribution of property to heirs and beneficiaries. 

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.

Spouse and/or descendants

If you leave behind both a spouse and descendants, your spouse will receive either one-third of the estate or the descendants 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 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 equally inherit 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 is no one survived 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, this is your final gift to your loved ones, you should want to do it now.