Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 31: Descent and Distribution

Chapter 4: Elective Share of Surviving Spouse

TCA 31-4-101: Right to elective share.

(a)  (1)  The surviving spouse of an intestate decedent who elects against taking an intestate share, or a surviving spouse who elects against a decedent's will, has a right of election, unless limited by subsection (c), to take an elective-share amount equal to the value of the decedent's net estate as defined in subsection (b), determined by the length of time the surviving spouse and the decedent were married to each other, in accordance with the following schedule:

Click to view table.

     (2)  For purposes of determining the total number of years to be applied to the computation provided in subdivision (a)(1), the number of years persons are married to the same person shall be combined. The years do not have to be consecutive, but may be separated by divorce. All years married shall be counted toward the total number of years for purposes of this section.

(b)  The value of the net estate includes all of the decedent's real property, notwithstanding § 31-2-103, and personal property subject to disposition under the provisions of the decedent's will or the laws of intestate succession, reduced by the following: secured debts to the extent that secured creditors are entitled to realize on the applicable collateral, funeral and administration expenses, and award of exempt property, homestead allowance and year's support allowance. The net estate does not include any assets over which the decedent held a power of appointment, whether exercised or not, unless the decedent exercises the power of appointment to direct the assets to be paid to the decedent's personal representative for administration as part of the decedent's probate estate.

(c)  After the elective-share amount has been determined in accordance with subsections (a) and (b), the amount payable to the surviving spouse by the estate shall be reduced by the value of all assets includable in the decedent's gross estate that were transferred, or deemed transferred, to the surviving spouse or that were for the benefit of the surviving spouse, but excluding the homestead allowance, exempt property and year's support allowance. For purposes of this subsection (c), the decedent's gross estate shall be determined by the court in the same manner as for inheritance tax purposes pursuant to title 67, chapter 8, part 3, except that the value of any life estate or trust for the lifetime benefit of the surviving spouse shall be actuarially determined.

(d)  The elective- share amount payable to the surviving spouse is exempt from the claims of unsecured creditors of the decedent's estate and, notwithstanding § 30-2-614(b) or (e), shall not be allocated to any United States or any state estate, inheritance or other death transfer tax if the elective share amount qualifies for and is used as a marital deduction in determining the decedent's death tax liability under any applicable estate, inheritance or other death transfer tax statute.

History: [Acts 1977, ch. 25, § 4; T.C.A., § 31-601; Acts 1985, ch. 140, § 28; 1997, ch. 426, § 17; 2001, ch. 400, § 3; 2004, ch. 866, § 2; 2007, ch. 13, §§ 1-3.]