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What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will?

What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will?

Introduction to Tennessee’s Intestacy Law

Dying without a will, is unfortunately very common. If you die without a will, your property will likely go through a court process called probate and will ultimately be distributed according to Tennessee’s intestacy law. Here are some common events that may happen if you die intestate:

  1. Your immediate next of kin, whoever they are, will likely inherit your property first. If you die intestate, everything goes to your next of kin. Your next of kin are the people who have the closest relation to you. Your children are first in line, along with your spouse if you are married at the time of your death. Otherwise, it’s your closest relatives. For example, say you die intestate without a spouse, children, or parents. Your next of kin could be your much younger half-sister or a cousin you’ve never met. Whoever fits the “closest living relative(s)” criteria will inherit everything after the estate pays your debts and taxes.
     
  2. That son- or daughter-in-law you don’t like will get your property before that niece or nephew you do like. Marital property owned by your children is governed by the laws of the states they live in, not you. If they live in a communal property state, they’re sharing the inheritance, 50/50. While the laws are different in every state, property acquired during marriage by either spouse may be marital property, especially if used for the benefit of both spouses. 
     
  3. A little bit of money up for grabs can have a cooling effect on interfamilial relationships. In a perfect world, family members would all get along, never be jealous, and always do right by each other. This isn’t a perfect world. Intestacy law doesn’t take into account the relationships the deceased had with anyone or what the deceased orally promised to someone. Even if widowed Uncle Bob told you he wanted you to have his ’65 Thunderbird, without a will, the car is going to his son…who doesn’t even have a driver’s license. When families start fighting over estates, lawyers get a lot of money and the family gets a lot of heartache, so it’s best to put your wishes in writing so everyone knows what is expected in advance and the Court has authority to enforce your wishes.

If you’ve recently lost a loved one who did not have a will and you have questions about the administration of their estate, you should speak to a probate attorney for guidance.  If you need assistance, we invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation.

How to Avoid the Need for a Probate Lawyer in Nashville

Probate word made of square letter word on grey background.

If you are dealing with an estate that has to go through the probate process in Tennessee, your smartest move is going to be to work with a probate lawyer in Nashville.  There are cases where very simple estates will move through fairly easily, but there is still a matter of paperwork, accounting, etc. to consider; and a probate lawyer can save you an incredible amount of time and hassle.  

The best way to avoid the need for a probate lawyer in Nashville is to make sure that your estate planning has been done in advance.  This means that you’ve set up wills, trusts, and any other applicable legal documents so that those you leave behind won’t have to deal with taking the entire estate through the court system.  Trusts, such as a revocable living trust, are one of the most common tools for avoiding probate, but there are some other possible options. 

Small Estates 

Some people think that having a will means that your estate will bypass the process.  However, any reputable probate lawyer in Nashville will tell you that this isn’t the case.  Having a will is certainly still important, as it provides important directions for the passing of your estate, but it doesn’t get your heirs off the hook when it comes to probate. 

If the estate is truly a “small” one, then you may be able to avoid probate.  This can happen in cases where the only thing left behind is personal property.  In these situations, there is no true estate to be inherited.  The laws regarding the allowable value of an estate to be considered in this group do change, so it might be helpful to at least chat with a Nashville probate lawyer to see if the estate qualifies.  If so, the heir may be able to create an affidavit that will work instead of going through probate.  There are also some simplified court procedures available to heirs of these very small estates. 

Payable-on-Death Accounts

Many banks and other financial institutions allow for accounts to be transferred after death without going through probate.  It’s a good idea to discuss your inheritance plan with a Nashville probate lawyer or estate planning attorney to ensure that this is a good option for you. This kind of planning has to be done in advance and should take your entire estate plan into account.  

These are just a couple of tools available to those who want to avoid the eventual need for a probate lawyer.  If they have not been put into place, or you’re not sure if these rules apply to you, we invite you to schedule a free call with us to see how we can help.  


How Remote Notary Works

How Remote Notary Works

Here at GALS Nashville, I had my very first online remote notary signing for a client. It was really easy to immediately get their documents notarized and filed with the clerk’s office. So basically, one smooth action that didn’t take very much time, and I didn’t need to print anything.

I prepared the documents, we signed them electronically, I notarized them electronically, and then I uploaded them to the clerk’s website. It is a pretty seamless process, and I am hoping more clients choose to go this way in the future. This new process will save you so much time since there’s no coming to the office or finding a bank or UPS store to get your documents notarized. 

All of the security protocols are within the software. I use a software called SIGNiX that’s based out of Chattanooga. They use knowledge-based authentication (KBA), which is required under regulations controlling remote notaries under the state of Tennessee.

How it works:

  1. We prepare all the required documents
  2. Sign electronically on Zoom with me
  3. I notarize electronically
  4. I file the document with the clerk’s office
  5. Done!

Information you must provide in order to use the remote notary application:

  1. Date of Birth
  2. Social Security Number
  3. Some Information from your credit history 
  4. Photo ID

What equipment you need in order to use the remote notary application:

  1. A phone or computer with a webcam

This made the process so much smoother and I was just amazed at how easy it is!

So, if you have something that you need notarized, feel free to contact our office. If you’re a current client and you know you have something that needs to be notarized coming up, feel free to ask us about that, and we’ll probably be approaching you about it as well. 

I hope that more people will start to use this remote notary application in the future. If you have any questions or just want to know more, you can schedule a complimentary call with us here!