The idea that someone would pass away without a will is not very far-fetched. In some cases, especially when the decedent's estate doesn't have a lot of personal assets or only has one or two potential heirs, legal proceedings for an estate without a will concludes without a hitch. In other cases, when the decedent's estate is large and includes many potential creditors and heirs, the estate can be complicated and time-consuming to resolve.
At the end of the day, probate courts handle estates without wills according to Tennessee intestacy laws as follows:
The decedent has a living spouse and descendants
The spouse will receive one-third of the estate and the children will equally divide the rest. However, if the spouse's one-third is less than the share received by each child, then the estate will be divided equally among the spouse and the children. If a child has died, then the descendants of the children will equally divide that child's share.
The decedent as a living spouse and no descendants
If only a spouse survives the deceased, he or she will receive all of the estate's assets.
The decedent has living descendants but no living spouse
The children will equally divide the estate in this case.
The decedent is only survived by one or two parents
The parents will divide the estate equally.
The decedent is only survived by siblings or descendants of the siblings
The siblings will divide the estate equally. If one of the siblings is deceased, that siblings descendants will divide the sibling's share equally.
The decedent has no living parents, siblings or descendants of siblings
Fifty percent will go to one parent's side of the deceased family and 50 percent will go to the other parent's side.
The decedent has no survivors
When no survivors can be found, the State of Tennessee will absorb the assets of the estate.
Intestacy laws provide guidelines for the distribution of estates without wills. In this respect, they combine to form a kind of "automatic will" for the will-less decedent. However, if you want to bypass intestacy laws in Tennessee, you should take the time to write and execute a clear and lawful will.