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What happens if you die without a will in Tennessee?

| Oct 31, 2020 | Estate Planning |

Most people know that an estate plan gives them some control over what happens to their assets and personal effects following their death. What happens, however, if someone doesn’t take the time to have their will written before their death? In those situations, Tennessee’s intestate succession laws will determine what goes where. 

These laws establish a preference for the spouse and children of the deceased. The division of the deceased’s estate will be ordered as follows:

  • Their surviving spouse receives the entire estate if there aren’t any children.
  • If there are children, an estate is split evenly between the surviving spouse and the deceased’s children, but the spouse will receive at least 33% of the estate. 
  • If there is no surviving spouse, the deceased’s children split the estate equally.

It’s important to know that legally adopted children are given equal shares of a parent’s estate. This isn’t the case for foster children or stepchildren, so you must create an estate plan if you want your foster or stepchildren to have a share of your estate. 

If you have grandchildren and you pass away without a will, they would be able to claim your child’s share of your estate if your child passes away before the estate is distributed. If you create an estate plan, you can enable this to happen by adding a “per stirpes” clause in the will. 

Because there are many situational variations that can occur, it’s best for anyone concerned about the division of their estate to discuss the matter with their attorney. This can help them to learn the options and get things set up in their preferred manner.