What Happens When Joint Owners of a Bank Account Die Simultaneously in Tennessee?

Posted on May 10 2016 1:10PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Sometimes, two individuals who own a bank account as joint tenants with right of survivorship or tenants by the entirety, die at the same time.  In this situation, the question is, what happens to the money in those accounts?  Normally, joint tenant accounts with Right of Survivorship immediately pass to the surviving individual on the account.  However, if there is a simultaneous death, the ownership of these accounts is often an unresolved issue.  Thankfully, Tennessee adopted the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act long ago.  TCA § 31-3-104 provides as follows: 


Where there is no sufficient evidence that two (2) joint tenants or tenants by the entirety have died otherwise than simultaneously, the property so held shall be distributed one-half ( ½ ) as if one had survived and one-half ( ½ ) as if the other had survived. If there are more than two (2) joint tenants and all of them have so died, the property thus distributed shall be in the proportion that one bears to the whole number of joint tenants.


As a result, if two or more individuals own an account as joint tenants or tenants by the entirety, then the account is split among the estates of the individuals who died simultaneously.  As a result, usually this means that their portion of the account would pass pursuant to the provisions in their will because the asset would then become part of the estate (since it no longer passed pursuant to the right of survivorship). 


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TAGS: Probate Assets, Tennessee Probate Law
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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. Contact Jason at 615-540-1004 or jlee@burrowlee.com for an initial consultation on wills estate planning and probate issues.

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Tennessee Wills and Estates Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
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Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com