If my father died without a will, what am I entitled to?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If my father died without a will, what am I entitled to?

My father passed away 15 months ago. After he died I received a $10,000 life insurance

check from his job. However, his wife got all the other money, 401k, cars and home (which was in his name). He didn’t have a Will to my knowledge. I was wondering if I was entitled to more?

Asked on April 1, 2016 under Estate Planning, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

In your state, as a general matter, when there is no will (intestate sucession) but there is a spouse and descendents (children; i.e. you), the spouse and the descendents share equally in the estate (split it equally), but the spouse's share, if there are multiple children, cannot be less than 1/3.
However, any property which was jointly titled in both their names (e.g. a home or car jointly titled, joint bank accounts, etc.) will become her property or asset solely. A 401 will go to whomever was designated as the beneficiary, as will an insurance policy (which you evidently received). 
If you believe you received less than your legal share, you can bring a legal action and ask for the chancery or surrogate's court to order the proper division or distribution of assets. You are advised to seek an attorney's help for this.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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