Sometimes people die without a will. Legally, this is known as dying intestate. If someone dies intestate, it is up to the state of Tennessee to determine how their property will be distributed.
Tennessee Laws of Intestacy
The laws of intestacy provide the probate court with direction on how to divide property when someone dies without a will. Who gets the decedent’s possessions and belongings is dependent on which relatives survive the person who died.
Specifically, if a person dies with (a):
- Spouse, but no children or descendants, the spouse inherits everything.
- Children, but no spouse, the children inherit everything.
- Spouse and children or descendants, the spouse and children (or descendants) share everything equally. However, the spouse’s share cannot be less than one-third of the property.
- Parents, but no spouse, children, or descendants, the parents inherit everything.
- Siblings, but no parents, spouse, children, or descendants, all of the property goes to the siblings. If the siblings died first, the property may go to the siblings’ children or their descendants. Half siblings have the same rights as full siblings.
If none of these relatives survive the person who died, the person’s property may go to their cousins. If there are no surviving cousins, the property may go to the State of Tennessee.
Intestacy laws may seem easy enough to follow, but some complications may arise. For example, foster and stepchildren may not have a right to inherit unless they were formally adopted by the person who died. However, children born after the death of a parent may inherit property.
These rules only apply to property that goes through the probate process. Other properties, such as trust property, property owned with another person, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts that pass outside of probate, are not included.
Contact Luna Law Firm
When you want to ensure that a decedent’s last wishes are carried out but there’s no will, contact Nathan Luna at Luna Law Firm. Nathan is a skilled and experienced probate attorney and recognizes probate matters are not just about assets; they are about protecting the people who have a right to those assets. If Nathan takes your case, he will aggressively represent you to ensure that your loved one’s property is divided according to the intestacy laws of Tennessee. Contact Luna Law Firm today.