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Who will receive one's property if they do not have a will?

While death is a guarantee for everyone in Tennessee, most do not really think about it until it becomes imminent. There are way too many things to think about in one's daily life to worry about what is going to happen when one dies. However, people also cannot take their possessions with them after they die either. Everything one owns will end up in the hands of another person. The law states who will receive people's possessions, if they do not have a will directing where the belongings should go.

If a person has a spouse and no children at the time of their death, then all the property will go to the spouse. If they have a spouse and children, a portion will go to the spouse and a portion to the children. If they have children, but no spouse then the children will each receive a portion of the property. If there is no spouse or children then it goes to the decedent's parents and if no parents then to siblings. If there is no parents or siblings then it goes to the grandparents and then to aunts and uncles if there are any.

Sometimes this may be where the individual would like the property to go, but people usually have different relationships with different family members. They also may want to make sure certain individuals get certain property for sentimental reasons or they may know a specific relative needs the property more than another. This is why it is important to have a will. Wills direct where property will go and the decedent has control over the process.

People in Tennessee plan for many things in their life to ensure things go the way they would like them to go. However, many people do not plan for their death. While it is not a subject people generally like to discuss, having a will is still important and should be discussed. Experienced attorneys understand the law and important aspects of wills and may be a useful resource.

Source: FindLaw, "Tennessee Code Title 31. Descent and Distribution § 31-2-104," accessed on Aug. 10, 2017

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James H. Snyder Attorney at Law
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