Do you know what happens if you die without a will?

Understanding Interstate Succession Laws

Every state and the District of Columbia have a set of Interstate Succession Laws to determine how property is distributed after an individual dies without a will. If you pass on without a will in Tennessee, the intestate succession laws essentially decide your heirs for you. Your assets are still passed on, but the state decides where they will be distributed. These laws are in place to distribute your property in an organized manner.

Some assets are passed to the surviving co-owner or named beneficiary of that asset. For example, real estate titles control their ownership. However, the deceased’s individually owned assets are impacted by Intestate Succession Laws. Essentially, heirs are classified and the state determines how the assets are distributed. Each state has their own set of these laws, so it is important to refer to the laws in your state.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will in Tennessee?

Under intestate succession in Tennessee, the party who receives the inheritance depends on their relationship to the deceased.

If the deceased is survived by:
a spouse but no descendants → spouse inherits everything
children and no spouse → children inherit everything
a spouse and descendants → spouse and children equally share but spouse’s share is not less than 1/3
parents but no spouse or descendants → parents inherit everything
siblings but no spouse or descendants → siblings inherit everything

So, if you die without a will and are survived by your spouse, what your spouse receives depends on whether or not you have living descendants (children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren). If you don’t have living descendants, then your spouse would inherit all of your property. However, if you do have living descendants, your spouse will share your property equally with the descendants, but the spouse cannot receive a share of less than 1/3.
If you die without a will and are survived by your children, the size of each child’s share depends on how many children you have and whether or not you were married.

What You Should Do:

Preparing a will is a critical step in assuring that your wishes are carried out after your death. This ensures that your property will be distributed the way you intend.

If you are ready to create your will, contact us today. We are happy to help you with this important process.