Tennessee has a statute for it:
A sum not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) is authorized to be paid directly to the surviving spouse of a decedent, but if none, then to the surviving children of the decedent as tenants in common, as follows:
(A) By an employer any wages or other compensation owed a deceased employee at the time of the employee’s death;
(B) By any other person owing, or holding funds for, a decedent if six (6) months have passed since the decedent’s death without application having been made for the appointment of a personal representative.
Note that if the amount owed is greater than $10,000, the excess will generally be subject to probate. However, depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to use the small estate procedure, rather than common form probate, to claim the overage (and other assets).
Other persons can potentially benefit from the statute as well. The statute makes clear that the employee may designate a beneficiary to receive wages or salary that are owed to the employee at death, irrespective of the amount.
Source: T.C.A. § 30-2-103
Posted by Joel D. Roettger, JD, LLM, EPLS