An overview of what your options are when your deceased spouse left you out of the will or left you very little in the will.
Two scenarios that happens frequently:
(1.) A husband dies leaving a will that directs his wife to take a certain portion of his estate. Unfortunately, he did not think much of his wife and only left her a small portion of his rather large estate. (2.) A husband dies leaving his wife completely out of his will. His intention was that she not receive anything from his estate.
What is the outcome?
(1.) Is the widow's only option to take the small amount left to her under the will? Absolutely Not. (2.) Can a husband leave his wife out of his will and expect that she receive nothing? Absolutely Not.
Tennessee's Elective Share Statute:
Under Tennessee's Elective Share Statute (TCA 31-4-101), a deceased person's surviving spouse may choose to NOT take what was left to him/her in the will and, instead, choose to take an Elective Share of the deceased spouse's estate. In effect, this statute operates to keep one spouse from cutting the other spouse completely out of the will or leaving him/her with so little that they would no longer be financially independent.
Determining the amount a surviving spouse would receive under Tennessee's Elective Share Statute:
Tennessee law provides a table for the court to use in determining how much the surviving spouse would receive as his/her Elective Share of the deceased spouse's estate. The amount the surviving spouse is entitled to receive depends on the number of years the two were married. The longer the couple was married, the greater the possible Elective Share. Additionally, the percentage of the Elective Share the surviving spouse may recover is calculated based on the total amount of the decedent's net estate.
Tennessee courts use the following table to determine a surviving spouse's Elective Share:
(1.) Married less than 3 years: the surviving spouse receives 10% of the deceased's net estate. (2.) Married 3 years to 6 years: the surviving spouse receives 20% of the deceased's net estate. (3.) Married 6 years to 9 years: the surviving spouse receives 30% of the deceased's net estate. (4.) Married 9 years or more: the surviving spouse receives 40% of the deceased's net estate. (TCA 31-4-101)
Petitioning the Court for an Elective Share:
Determining 1) whether to take what was left to you under your deceased spouse's will OR 2) whether to take your Elective Share of the deceased spouse's estate is a tough decision. Before you make the call, it is important to speak with an attorney who can help you calculate what you stand to gain or lose. Sometimes the amount given during the marriage will outweigh the amount one was entitled to under the Elective Share.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on
their profile in addition to the information we collect from state
bar associations and other organizations that license legal
professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo
with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do
What determines Avvo Rating?
Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, education
Legal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awards
Legal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagements
This lawyer was disciplined by a state licensing authority in .
Disciplinary information may not be comprehensive, or updated. We recommend that you always check a lawyer's disciplinary status with their respective state bar association before hiring them.