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What happens if my parent dies without a will?

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2019 | Probate |

According to a survey by Caring.com, 57% of adults don’t have a will. And only 53% of adults have had a conversation about estate planning with their loved ones.

If your parent has any wishes for the inheritance left behind, only a will can make sure courts follow those instructions. If your parent passes away without an estate plan, Tennessee probate courts will step in to distribute any inheritance.

Intestacy succession in Tennessee

When someone dies without a will, courts call it dying intestate. A Tennessee probate court will follow state laws for intestacy succession to distribute the assets of the deceased.

Intestacy succession starts with your parent’s spouse. If your other parent or stepparent is still alive, probate courts will give him or her either one-third of the estate or a child’s share, whichever is more. The children receive the rest, split equally.

If you only have one parent left, you and your siblings receive the rest in equal shares. If one of your siblings has passed away but left children, they each split a child’s share.

Courts ignore any wishes not written down in a will

Your parent may have shared what wishes he or she has for the estate. But without a will, you cannot enforce those wishes. Instead, the probate court distributes the inheritance following Tennessee law. For example, if your parent remarried and told you that everything should go to the children instead of the new spouse, a court will ignore those instructions and follow intestacy succession laws.

Your parent may find talking about estate planning difficult. But if he or she has shared any wishes about how to distribute the inheritance, you may want to talk about creating a will.