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John Elder
John Elder, Estate & Elder Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4631
Experience:  Over 14 years experience in Medicaid, Estates, Trust.
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If my deceased father does not have a will but is remarried

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If my deceased father does not have a will but is remarried who is entitled to his estate and how should it be handled ?
Welcome! Thank you for your question.

If there are accounts that are listed as "transfer on death" or with beneficiary designations those accounts pass automatically to the listed beneficiaries based on the designations he made. You can and should check with the company that has his retirement account to see if he designated a beneficiary on that account.

With that said, all other assets that are owned by your father alone and without beneficiaries will pass under intestate succession law in Tennessee. Here is the statute regarding intestate succession in Tennessee:

(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;

I cannot provide you with legal advise. I have provided you with information about the law related to your question. My answer, and any information that you find online, should not take the place of having a consultation with a lawyer in your area to advise you regarding your specific issues.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
So I would be entitled to a 1/3 of the estate ? How do we find out the name of the company which has the retirement ? Do we have to open a probate to determine assets ?
The spouse is entitled to 1/3 or a child's share, whichever is greater. I cannot tell you how much a child's share is because you have not told me how many children there are.

The only way to discover the names of account holders is to search his mail and/or his important papers. If your stepmother controls that information then you may have no options to locate that information.

Probate is only required if there are assets that do not pass to beneficiaries. Probate can assist in locating asset information because it gives someone authority to access account information.
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