At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, we encourage our clients to create estate plans that allow them to feel prepared for the future, no matter what that entails. But for some couples, they never consider that tomorrow is not a guarantee and wait to create these important documents. So what happens if you die without a will? What is your spouse entitled to if you die? What happens if you never updated your estate planning documents with your spouse and/or children as beneficiaries? The Tennessee estate planning pros of Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC explain.
Dying Intestate in Tennessee
In those horrible circumstances where tomorrow never comes and you never had the chance to prepare a will, your assets will be governed by Tennessee’s laws of intestate succession.
While you may think this means your surviving spouse will inherit everything, this isn’t always true. In general, Tennessee intestate succession law is:
- If you have no direct descendants (children) but do have a spouse, they will receive your entire state at the time of your death.
- If you have children and a spouse, your spouse is entitled to either one-third of your estate, or a child’s share, whichever is greater.
But what happens if you have a will but never included your spouse in it? What about the deed
to your home?
If you had created estate plans before marrying your spouse but never updated the documents, this doesn’t mean your spouse is written out of an inheritance. In Tennessee, your spouse is entitled to an “elective share” which is based on how long you’ve been married; in general, the maximum is forty percent of the net estate if the couple was married nine years or more.
Right of Survivorship in Tennessee
The right of survivorship simply means that when one landowner dies, the person who survives owns 100 percent of the land. However, for this to work, you need to establish joint tenancy. This can be done by checking your mortgage or deed. In general, people think that the surviving spouse will inherit the family property. But that’s not necessarily true.
If there are children, that property will also be distributed amongst them. The hope is that the children will help the surviving parent remain in the home, but there is no legal guarantee that that must happen.
How can you avoid all this? Creating estate plans with Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC.
Don’t Let Chance Rule Your Spouses Future, Plan For the Future Today
Many recently married couples think that they are too young or have their entire lives ahead of them to prepare and establish their wills. But when accidents end in tragedy and now your surviving spouse isn’t sure what is rightfully theirs, it will be too late to provide for them.
No one wants to think of life without their partner. But when you consider the alternatives of not being prepared for the unthinkable, the obvious choice is to draft your estate planning documents.
If you live in Nashville or Springfield, Tennessee, and need estate planning guidance or are currently going through the intestate administration process, call us. We know how difficult this time can be, but we want to help. After all, it’s what we do.