If you die without a valid will while residing in the State of Tennessee, you are said to have died "intestate."  In order to determine who will receive your property if you die intestate, the State of Tennessee has established a number of laws (known as "intestacy laws" or "laws of intestate succession.") The primary statutes comprising these intestacy laws, or laws of intestate succession, are set forth below. For a more complete list, see Tennesee Intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession statutes.



31-2-101.  Intestate estate.
When any person dies intestate, after the payment of debts and charges against the estate, the deceased's property passes to the deceased's heirs as prescribed in the following sections of this chapter. Any part of the estate of a decedent not effectively disposed of by the deceased's will passes to the deceased's heirs in the same manner.

31-2-102.  Dower and curtesy abolished.

Dower and curtesy, as formerly known, are abolished. This section shall neither abridge nor affect rights that have vested before April 1, 1979.

31-2-103.  Vesting of estate — Net estate.
The real property of an intestate decedent shall vest immediately upon death of the decedent in the heirs as provided in § 31-2-104. The real property of a testate decedent vests immediately upon death in the beneficiaries named in the will, unless the will contains a specific provision directing the real property to be administered as part of the estate subject to the control of the personal representative. Upon qualifying, the personal representative shall be vested with the personal property of the decedent for the purpose of first paying administration expenses, taxes, and funeral expenses and then for the payment of all other debts or obligations of the decedent as provided in § 30-2-317. If the decedent's personal property is insufficient for the discharge or payment of a decedent's obligations, the personal representative may utilize the decedent's real property in accordance with title 30, chapter 2, part 4. After payment of debts and charges against the estate, the personal representative shall distribute the personal property of an intestate decedent to the decedent's heirs as prescribed in § 31-2-104, and the property of a testate decedent to the distributees as prescribed in decedent's will.

31-2-104.  Share of surviving spouse and heirs.

(a)  The intestate share of the surviving spouse is:
(1)  If there is no surviving issue of the decedent, the entire intestate estate; or

(2)  If there are surviving issue of the decedent, either one-third (1/3) or a child's share of the entire intestate estate, whichever is greater.
(b)  The part of the intestate estate not passing to the surviving spouse under subsection (a) or the entire intestate estate if there is no surviving spouse, passes as follows:
(1)  To the issue of the decedent; if they are all of the same degree of kinship to the decedent they take equally, but if of unequal degree, then those of more remote degree take by representation;

(2)  If there is no surviving issue, to the decedent's parent or parents equally;
(3)  If there is no surviving issue or parent, to the brothers and sisters and the issue of each deceased brother and sister by representation; if there is no surviving brother or sister, the issue of brothers and sisters take by representation;or
(4)  If there is no surviving issue, parent, or issue of a parent, but the decedent is survived by one or more grandparents or issue of grandparents, half of the estate passes to the paternal grandparents if both survive, or to the surviving paternal grandparent or to the issue of the paternal grandparents if both are deceased, the issue taking equally if they are all of the same degree of kinship to the decedent, but if of unequal degree those of more remote degree take by representation; and the other half passes to the maternal relatives in the same manner; but if there is no surviving grandparent or issue of grandparent on either the paternal or maternal side, the entire estate passes to the relatives on the other side in the same manner as the half.
31-2-105.  Parent-child relationship.
(a)  If, for purposes of intestate succession, a relationship of parent and child must be established to determine succession by, through, or from a person:
(1)  An adopted person is the child of an adopting parent and not of the natural parents except that adoption of a child by the spouse of a natural parent has no effect on the relationship between the child and that natural parent; and
(2)  In cases not covered by subdivision (a)(1), a person born out of wedlock is a child of the mother. That person is also a child of the father, if:
(A)  The natural parents participated in a marriage ceremony before or after the birth of the child, even though the attempted marriage is void; or
(B)  The paternity is established by an adjudication before the death of the father or is established thereafter by clear and convincing proof, but the paternity established under this subdivision (a)(2)(B) is ineffective to qualify the father or the father's kindred to inherit from or through the child unless the father has openly treated the child as the father's, and has not refused to support the child.
(b)  In no event shall a parent be permitted to inherit through intestate succession until all child support arrearages together with interest thereon at the legal rate of interest computed from the date each payment was due have been paid in full to the parent ordered to receive support or to the parent's estate if deceased.

(c)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent a child from inheriting from a parent through intestate succession.

31-2-106.  Representation.

If representation is called for by this title, such representation shall be per stirpes.

31-2-107.  Kindred of half blood.

Relatives of the half blood inherit the same share they would inherit if they were of the whole blood.

31-2-108.   Afterborn heirs.

Relatives of the decedent conceived before the decedent's death but born thereafter inherit as if they had been born in the lifetime of the decedent.

31-2-110.  Escheat.

If there is no taker under this chapter, the intestate estate shall escheat to the state of Tennessee under the provisions of chapter 6 of this title.

[Reference - Tennessee Intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession]