Many Americans over the age of 72 understand the importance of making plans for their family once they’ve passed on. Eighty-one percent of those aged 72 or older have an estate plan in place. Yet, only 4 out of 10 of all American adults have a will or living trust. Having a will is essential for adults of all ages, especially those with children.
At Batson Nolan PLC, we offer a wide range of estate planning services, including:
- Writing and revising wills;
- Making power of attorney documents, living wills, and documenting funeral wishes;
- Setting up and managing trusts;
- Assigning guardians for minor or special needs children; and
- Much more.
Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?: Aretha Franklin’s Estate Nightmare
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, died from pancreatic cancer at age 76. She left behind four adult sons, who expected to inherit her $80 million estate. In the years after her death, her family found three handwritten wills in her home (two in a locked cabinet and one in a notebook under a couch cushion). The sons discovered a fourth will drafted by a law firm that Aretha never signed. Because they conflict, the wills must go through the probate process to authenticate the documents and determine the sons’ shares.
Other celebrities and politicians who died without a clear, authenticated will include:
- Michael Jackson (age 50),
- Jimi Hendrix (age 27),
- Kurt Cobain (age 27),
- Tupac Shakur (age 25),
- Prince (age 57),
- Amy Winehouse (age 27),
- Steve McNair (age 36),
- Bob Marley (age 36),
- Pablo Picasso (age 91),
- Martin Luther King, Jr. (age 39),
- Abraham Lincoln (age 56), and
- Chadwick Boseman (age 43).
Five years after her estate went to probate, Aretha’s sons are still fighting for their inheritances. The family faces $8 million in back taxes, growing penalties and interest, and mounting attorney fees. Had Aretha completed the will with her estate planning lawyer, the family likely could have collected their inheritance quickly and without prolonged legal battles.
What Makes a Good Estate Planning Attorney
As illustrated by Aretha Franklin’s estate debacle, you need an effective, experienced estate planning attorney. Every adult can benefit from estate planning, not only the rich or elderly. A good estate planning lawyer will help your family secure their inheritance while minimizing tax liabilities and attorney fees. Here are some of the top reasons why you need an estate planning attorney.
1. Bypass the Long And Expensive Probate Process
When you have an authenticated and signed will prepared by an attorney, your family can avoid a lengthy, complex probate process. A lengthy probate process can be expensive and can also force your family members to wait longer to receive property they need. With a will that meets the legal requirements, the probate court can allow your property to be distributed more quickly and in accordance with your wishes. Your completed documents will name your desired executor, or personal representative, who will receive your estate to distribute to the beneficiaries named in your will.
2. Ensure That Your Money Goes to Your Beneficiaries and Not to Attorney Fees
If you pass away without a will, you will have no say over who receives your money and property. If you die without a will, the court must follow the state laws for an intestate estate. These laws might leave out people you wanted your property to go to or may give property to someone you didn’t want to give property to. It will be up to your heirs to hire attorneys to fight for their share, like Aretha Franklin’s sons.
Many people falsely believe that estate planning attorneys are prohibitively expensive. In reality, drafting your estate plan will cost less than what your loved ones would spend hiring a probate attorney and going to court.
Don’t leave it to your family to figure out your wishes after you’ve passed. When you complete the estate planning process, your wishes will be documented and are more likely to be honored by the court. Your family won’t be stuck fighting or paying expensive fees out of pocket.
3. A Trusts and Estates Lawyer Knows State Law
Complex state and federal laws govern estate planning documents and probate courts. While you can draft your own will, our attorneys are familiar with the law and know the best way to protect you, your property, and your family. Our experienced attorneys will guide you through your options for legally documenting your wishes so a court can honor them.
4. Minimize Your Tax Obligations
Accounting for taxes is one of the most complex parts of distributing your estate after your death. Effective estate planning can reduce what you owe and maximize what your family receives. While Tennessee has no estate tax, your family may owe taxes to the federal government on their inheritance. Estate planning tools like revocable trusts, testamentary trusts, and family limited partnerships can help minimize your family’s tax obligation. Our attorneys understand how to use these tools to reduce tax liability upon your death.
5. Keep Your Documents Up To Date
Sometimes the law changes. Maybe your family situation changes, too. For example, maybe you have gotten a divorce, got married, or welcomed a new child into your family. When things change, your estate planning attorney will ensure your documents accurately reflect your desired plan and meet current legal requirements.
Batson Nolan PLC: Helping Families through the Estate Planning Process
You might be wondering, Why do I need an estate planning attorney? It’s never too early to plan for the future. Having an estate plan that reflects your needs and wishes lets you focus on your family without worrying about their future.
As one of the oldest firms in Tennessee, we will efficiently handle your plan for your beneficiaries to receive your home, farm, or other assets. After your attorney meeting, you will leave assured that your family will be cared for after your death. Contact us today to find out how we can help you plan for your family’s future.