In Tennessee, either a husband or a wife whose spouse has died has the right to elect to receive, from the deceased’s spouse’s assets, an amount allowed by a Tennessee statute, sometimes called the elective share statute, as opposed to receiving the amount left to him or her under the deceased’s spouse’s will.
Where a spouse has died without a valid will, the surviving spouse may also elect to receive the amount to which he or she is entitled pursuant to the elective share statute, as opposed to what he or she would receive under the statutes that prescribe what amount a surviving spouse receives when the deceased spouse did not leave a will. (Under Tennessee law which governs intestate estates, which are estates of those who have died without a valid will, a surviving spouse is entitled to the entire residue of deceased’s spouse’s estate where there are not children, and to the greater of one-third or a child’s share where there are children).
The amount of a surviving spouse’s elective share is based on the length of the marriage as follows:
Less than 3 years 10% of the net estate
3 years or more, but less than 6 20% of the net estate
6 years or more, but less than 9 30% of the net estate
9 years or more 40% of the net estate