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What if I Die Without a Will in Tennessee?

Death is an inevitable part of life, and while it is not something that most people like to think about, it is important to be prepared for what happens when it occurs. One of the most important ways to prepare for your passing is to have a will in place. A will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you die. But what if you die without a will in Tennessee?

Intestate Succession

When someone dies without a will, they are said to have died “intestate.” In Tennessee, intestate succession laws determine how a deceased person’s assets are distributed. These laws provide a hierarchy of heirs who will inherit the estate based on their relationship to the deceased. The rules of intestate succession can be complex, and it’s important to understand them if you or a loved one dies without a will.

If you die without a will in Tennessee and you are survived by a spouse, your spouse will inherit your entire estate if you have no children. But if you have children, your spouse will inherit one-third of your estate or a child’s share of the estate, whichever is greater; and your children will inherit the remaining amount of your estate in equal shares. If you have no spouse or children, your estate will pass to your parents, and if they are not living, then to your siblings in equal shares. If there are no surviving siblings or children of siblings, then we would look for grandparents or children of grandparents, and other and more distant relatives to find heirs.

It is important to note that intestate succession laws only apply to assets that would have passed through a will. Assets that pass outside of a will, such as joint accounts or accounts with designated beneficiaries, will pass to the surviving joint account holder or designated beneficiary. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets with designated beneficiaries will also pass directly to those beneficiaries.

Potential Complications

While the rules of intestate succession may seem straightforward, they can create complications for those left behind. For example, if you have minor children and die without a will, the court may need to appoint a guardian to care for them. If the court needs to appoint a guardian for your children, this could be a relative but it could also be someone that you would not have chosen as a guardian. If you have specific wishes for your children’s care, it is important to include those wishes in a will.

Additionally, dying without a will can result in disputes among family members. Even if you have a good relationship with your loved ones, the distribution of your assets could create tensions and disagreements. Having a will in place can help prevent these conflicts and provide clarity for your loved ones.

Judy Oxford Can Help if a Loved One Died Without a Will

In conclusion, dying without a will in Tennessee can have serious consequences for your loved ones. Intestate succession laws determine how your assets will be distributed, and these laws may not reflect your wishes. If you want to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of after your passing, it is important to have a will in place. An experienced attorney, like Judy Oxford, can help you create a will that meets your needs and gives you peace of mind.