WILLS & TRUSTS
Everyone should plan for transition in the event of their death. This includes strategizing care for children, disabled loved ones, and surviving spouses when you can no longer provide for them.
Wills & Revocable Living Trusts:
We will help you understand and plan for passing assets, such as:
Assets that pass by title ownership – assets such as your house, bank accounts, and vehicles will pass according to the title ownership. If you are married, most likely your spouse has a survivorship interest in the house. If you are not married, real property will pass directly to your heirs unless you identify special instructions in a will or trust.
Assets that pass by contract provisions – any asset in which you can name a beneficiary, such as life insurance, retirement accounts, and ‘payable on death’ designations.
Assets that pass by testamentary instruments – A will or trust is considered a testamentary instrument.
If you do not have a trust or will that designates your wishes, your assets will pass under the laws of Tennessee. Your spouse and children are your heirs. If you do not have a spouse or children, then your assets pass to your parents. If you have no parents or they have predeceased you, then your assets pass to your siblings.
Spouses have certain rights by law such as:
Elective share against a will
Personal property exemption
One year’s financial support
A revocable living trust (also called a "living trust") will allow you to bypass the probate process if it is set up properly. If you have a living trust, you will need to select a trustee that will be responsible for handling your assets after your death.
If you only have a will, you will need to go through the court probate process. You also need to know that your spouse can "elect" to take against your will. This is particularly important in blended families where there is an intent to protect children of a former marriage. This a reason prenuptial planning and testamentary planning is so important.
The Tennessee Probate Process
During the probate process, a probate estate is open, notice is given to beneficiaries and other potential beneficiaries, notice is given to creditors, claims against the estate are resolved, assets are collected, and a final distribution is made. During the probate process, you must also get a TennCare clearance and an inheritance tax clearance. If the estate exceeds the exempt amount for inheritance taxes, tax returns will have to be filed and taxes paid prior to distribution.
A will contest is when a potential beneficiary challenges the content, execution, or undue influence in creating the will. This can occur when the language of the will is vague or ambiguous, when the will was not properly executed, or when there was undue influence. Undue influence can be present when the deceased had a terminal illness and the will was changed just prior to death.
Other Important Issues:
If you have disabled children you can use a living trust to help provide for them in the future.
If you are married and there are children from prior to the marriage, you can use a living trust to allow for the care of a surviving spouse and still provide for surviving children.
You must understand the spousal rights given by law in marriage before you can effectively do prenuptial planning.
Changes To Your Will Or Trust
If you currently have a will and trust but would like to change the trustee or administrator, beneficiaries or other provisions, we will provide the necessary documents to make those changes.