In Tennessee, a person can leave his estate pretty much to whoever he wants.* Of course, when a person dies without a will, the State of Tennessee provides for how property is divided. See the blog article entitled, “When Aunt Becky Had No Will.”
If a person has no will, there are differences in how “children” are treated. Under Tenn. Code Ann. §31-1-101(1), for purposes of inheritance, a “child” is a natural born or adopted child. The statute specifically excludes a stepchild or foster child as a “child”.
You can see how unfortunate problems can occur when there is no will. A person can raise a stepchild or foster child from infancy and, unless the person makes provisions in their will, the stepchild or foster child will inherit nothing.
A properly drafted will enables a person to distribute their estate as they want, without depending on the survivors to “do what’s right”. A will can avoid family friction and hard feelings for years after a death.
If you would like to speak to James Wagner on this or any other matter, he may be reached at (865) 546-9321.
*The big exception is that you cannot completely disinherit a spouse by will. Tenn. Code Ann. §31-4-101 et seq.
James E. Wagner concentrates his practice in areas such as personal injury litigation, workers’ compensation, toxic tort litigation, products liability, firearms law, probate, estate planning and insurance. His varied legal experience helps him analyze and resolve issues in all areas of practice for his clients. He has been privileged to represent many of the same clients over my entire career and handles each case with a view toward a long-term relationship. James provides his clients with reliable, dependable service.