When a resident of Tennessee passes away, the decedent's real and personal
property has to be distributed in accordance with state law. The laws
of testate and intestate distribution can be found in Tennessee Code Annotated.
Essentially, when an individual creates a valid will before their death,
that person is said to have died "testate," meaning with a will.
On the other hand, when someone dies without having created a valid will,
he or she is said to have died "intestate" or without a
It is not uncommon for someone to die with a valid will, however, the will
did not address all of the decedent's property. When this happens,
the person is said to have died intestate with regard to the property
that did not pass by their will.
Dying Without a Will, 'Intestacy'
When someone dies without a will or "intestate," once the debts
and charges against the estate are paid, the remaining property shall
pass to their heirs as explained below.
Surviving Spouse's Share
- If there are no children, the entire intestate estate goes to the surviving spouse.
- If there are surviving children, either one-third or a child's share
of the estate, whichever is greater.
Heirs Other Than the Spouse
The portion of the estate not passing to the surviving spouse, or the entire
estate if there is no surviving spouse is passed as follows:
- If the children are of the same degree of kinship, they take an equal share.
- If there are no children, to the parent or parents equally.
- If there are no surviving parents, then to the brother or sister.
- If there are no children, or parents, then half of the estate passes to
the paternal grandparents, and so on.
For the purposes of intestate succession, a parent-child relationship includes
a biological child, an adopted child, a child born out of wedlock to a
mother, or a child born out of wedlock to the father where paternity has
been established or adjudicated before the father's death.
To learn more about Tennessee's intestate succession laws,
contact me, David Whittaker, Attorney at Law. As a seasoned Nashville
probate lawyer, I would be glad to answer your questions!