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Dividing the Money from a Wrongful Death Suit in Tennessee

When wrongful death occurs in Tennessee, the surviving family members may be eligible to receive compensation for damages and, in most cases, the proceeds from a wrongful death case are distributed in accordance with the Tennessee Intestate Succession laws. While there are a number of exceptions to the rules of intestate succession, generally speaking, the award is distributed as follows. Death of an Unmarried Adult with No Children: When an individual dies an leaves behind no spouse or children, the money recovered in a wrongful death suit is divided equally between the parents of... 

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When wrongful death occurs in Tennessee, the surviving family members may be eligible to receive compensation for damages and, in most cases, the proceeds from a wrongful death case are distributed in accordance with the Tennessee Intestate Succession laws.

While there are a number of exceptions to the rules of intestate succession, generally speaking, the award is distributed as follows.

  • Death of an Unmarried Adult with No Children: When an individual dies an leaves behind no spouse or children, the money recovered in a wrongful death suit is divided equally between the parents of the deceased. If one parent did not pay court ordered child support, however, he or she may not be able to receive any portion of the award.
  • Death of a Married Adult with No Children: If the decedent was married at the time of his or her death but had no children, 100 percent of the proceeds from a wrongful death suit are awarded to the surviving spouse.
  • Death of a Minor with No Spouse or Children: When a minor who has no spouse or children passes away due to wrongful death, the money recovered is divided equally between the decedent's parents. Again, if one parent did not pay court ordered child support, he or she may not be eligible to receive a portion of the proceeds from the suit.
  • Death of a Married Individual with Children: If the person was married at the time of the wrongful death and had children, the proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit are divided between the surviving children and the spouse. The spouse would receive 50 percent of the award if there is one child. When there are two children, each party will receive one-third of the proceeds. If three or more children are involved, the spouse receives one-third of the money, and the remaining two-thirds will be divided equally between the children. When the deceased had children from a previous marriage, the same rules apply.
  • Death of an Unmarried Adult with No Children and Whose Parents Are Deceased: When the victim of wrongful death has no spouse or children and no surviving parents, the proceeds from a wrongful death case are divided equally between his or her siblings.
  • Responsible Beneficiary: When an individual is convicted of murdering the victim, he or she cannot receive proceeds from a wrongful death suit in Tennessee.

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