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Fort, Holloway & Rogers Your FUTURE, Your Way
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Tennessee Intestacy Laws


The foundational document in any estate plan is the final will and testament, but many people in Tennessee pass away without ever committing their wishes to paper for how they would like to distribute the assets of their estate. When a person dies without a will their assets pass on through intestacy, otherwise known as intestate succession. An experienced estate planning attorney like those at Fort, Holloway, & Rogers in Williamson County can help you avoid intestacy and ensure that your wishes are adhered to after your passing. To learn more, call or contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

Tennessee Intestate Succession

Intestate succession is determined by what living relatives you have when you pass away without a will. If there is a spouse but no descendants, the spouse inherits everything. If there are children but not spouse, the children split the assets in equal shares. If there are living children and a spouse, they share equally in the estate, but the spouse cannot inherit less than one-third of the assets. If there are no children or a spouse but the parents are living, they inherit everything, and if there is no spouse, children, or parents alive but living siblings they inherit everything equally.

Intestate succession bars any outside parties such as friends, extended relatives, charitable organizations, pets, and others from inheriting or being given bequeaths in a person’s estate. Thankfully, there are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that your estate is distributed exactly how you wish after your passing and avoid intestate succession.

How to Avoid Intestacy

The easiest way to avoid Tennessee intestacy laws is to draft a final will and testament for your estate. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can ensure that your will accurately reflects your wishes and is drafted according to state law. Another way to avoid intestacy is to place assets in revocable or irrevocable trusts, which bypass the probate process. In addition, any assets that have a beneficiary designation attached can likewise bypass probate and are not subjected to Tennessee intestacy laws. Examples of beneficiary designated assets include the following:

  • Life insurance policies,
  • Retirement accounts (IRAs, 401(k)s, pension funds),
  • Payable-on-death bank accounts,
  • Transfer-on-death securities,
  • Real estate held in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety,
  • Vehicles with transfer-on-death forms, and
  • Trust assets

If you are interested in learning more about how to protect your estate assets from the Tennessee intestacy process, talk to our office today.

Talk to Our Office Today

At Fort, Holloway, & Rogers our experienced and knowledgeable Franklin estate planning & probate lawyers understand how important it is to our clients that their estate be distributed according to their wishes after their passing. We have the skills to ensure that your estate does not pass through intestacy and are here to answer any questions that you have about the process. To learn more about drafting or amending your estate plan, call or contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

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