Call Us Today 931-250-8585


Who Inherits If I Die Without a Will? (Tennessee)

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Aug 14, 2019 | 2 Comments

I often get asked who inherits if someone dies without a will.  This is called dying "intestate", and there are laws that specify who inherits.  The persons that inherit are called "heirs at law".  This post covers who inherits if a person domiciled in Tennessee dies without a will.  State laws vary, so do not rely on this for any other state.

If at the time of death the decedent was:

Who Inherits


Married with no living descendants

Surviving spouse

Married with at least one living descendant

Spouse gets a child's share but not less than 1/3. Issue of same degree take equally; remote degree by representation.

Unmarried, no living descendants, at least one parent alive

Parent(s) then living

Unmarried, no living descendants, both parents deceased

Living siblings and descendants of deceased siblings.   Deceased siblings take by representation

Unmarried, no living descendants, both parents deceased, no living siblings or issue of siblings.

Living grandparents and their descendants (e.g. aunts, uncles, cousins).  Half to paternal side, half to maternal side or all to one side if no living grandparents or their issue on the other side. Go no further up the line than grandparents. Other issue of great grandparents do not take.

If you need help probating the estate of a Tennessee resident who died without a will, call us.  We can help.

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...


Darlene Stokes Reply

Posted Jul 06, 2023 at 11:02:16

My son passed away in 2021 with no assets. He has 2 children, now ages 18 and 20. My son’s father is living and has a large amount of assets. My son was his only child. He has stated that in his will all assets are being left to the adult children of his current wife. My question is: Do my grandchildren have any recourse in contesting the will?

Nina Whitehurst Reply

Posted Jul 07, 2023 at 10:39:05

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but as a general rule in this country nobody has any obligation to leave his or her estate to any other person, whether related or not. There are some statutes that force some (limited) inheritance in favor of a disinherited spouse or minor children, but I am not aware of any such statute that favors grandchildren in that way. Contesting a will generally requires solid proof that the testator lacked capacity when the will was made or the will was forced by undue influence or duress. The facts you recite do not suggest that, but you might want to speak with an attorney who handles contested probates in the vicinity of your father in law.

Leave a Comment

Areas We Serve

Aenean lacinia bibendum nulla sed consectetur. Donec sed odio dui. Maecenas sed diam eget risus varius blandit sit amet non magna. Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor. Morbi leo risus, porta ac consectetur ac, vestibulum at eros. Cras justo odio, dapibus ac facilisis in, egestas.