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What property will I inherit after my spouse passes away?

If you and your spouse do not have a will set, as a spouse, you will receive the marital benefit of assuming sole ownership of your and your deceased spouse's entire marital estate. As for assets that are separate property of your spouse, or assets that do not fall under the marital estate, Tennessee state intestacy laws -- and the probate court -- will govern their distribution.

Considering this, what property will not be classified as part of the marital estate? This property, also known as separate property, includes:

  • Property that the spouses owned themselves before marriage
  • Property bought by a spouse with property that he or she previously owned before marriage
  • Capital gains earned on property that was owned before marriage
  • Civil damage award money
  • Property received as a gift from others

If you and your spouse laid out specific arrangements in your estate plan that dictates the dispensation of your respective estates, your inheritance rights might be different from someone who is married to a spouse without an estate plan. For example, perhaps you and your spouse agreed that your children would receive a certain amount of cash from a joint bank following your spouse's death.

Either way, you may want to discuss your inheritance rights with a Tennessee probate and estate administration lawyer. Your lawyer can help you navigate the probate process for your deceased spouse while defending your inheritance rights, in court if necessary. Your attorney will also be able to help you create a suitable estate plan that fits your and your family's changing needs following a significant life event, such as a new born baby, a divorce or a death the family.

Source: FindLaw, "Wills and Will Contests," accessed Aug. 04, 2017

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