Experienced Clarksville Estate Planning Attorneys Ready To Serve You
Estate planning, wills, trusts, probate…end-of-life matters can be overwhelming. Batson Nolan PLC’s Clarksville estate planning lawyers and probate lawyers are here to make preparing easier for you and the ones you love! Our Clarksville plan my estate lawyer will gladly help you.
The estate planning attorneys at Batson Nolan helped my husband and me reevaluate our wills after a major life change. After meeting with the attorneys, we feel confident that our assets are protected for our children and grandchildren. – Debbie B.
Below are 5 Helpful Tips to Assist with the Estate Planning Process:
1) Make a Plan
Meet with a lawyer to draft and execute a document that clearly outlines how your assets should be distributed and your debts paid at your death. Also, designate who you think is best suited to assume guardianship of your children.
2) Make a Health Care Directive (or “Living Will”)
A health care directive will express to health care professionals and family members what you do and do not want in the event that you are unable to guide these decisions at the time.
3) Determine a Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney will allow someone you trust to handle important financial matters should you be unable to do so.
4) Determine a Healthcare Power of Attorney
A healthcare power of attorney can make medical decisions for you should you be unable to do so.
5) Organize and Store Important Documents
Making any important documents easily accessible to your lawyer and/or family can save valuable time and cut down on stress.
Call our estate planning legal team at (931) 647-1501 to plan your estate today!
Plan Now To Protect the Future of Your Assets
Attorneys in this area:
The estate planning lawyers and probate attorneys at Batson Nolan PLC handle end-of-life legal matters with the utmost dignity and integrity. Whether you are writing a simple will, need help with complex estate planning, or require the assistance of a probate attorney, the knowledgeable lawyers at our law offices in Clarksville will provide legal advice tailored to your specific needs.
We offer a full range of legal services related to wills, estate planning, and probate, including advice on powers of attorney and medical directives, living wills, revocable trusts, special needs trusts, charitable planning, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial planning, family limited partnerships, and other gifting vehicles.
Our Clarksville estate planning lawyers are also experienced in representing clients in conservatorships, guardianships, probate, and trust administration, representing both individuals and corporate fiduciaries. Additionally, we also have experience in probate and trust-related litigation, including contested conservatorship and guardianship proceedings, will contests, undue influence proceedings, and various trust litigation.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the process by which a deceased person’s assets get properly distributed to his or her heirs. While an estate planning lawyer helps people financially plan for the future by drafting documents such as wills and trusts, a Clarksville probate lawyer can assist you after a loved one has died. For example, in the event of a will contest, a probate attorney can represent either the executor appointed by the court to oversee the administration of the estate or those initiating the will contest.
Many estates need to go through probate, although there are exceptions. For example, in Tennessee, estates valued at less than $50,000 and that do not contain real estate interests may qualify for simplified probate proceedings. This allows the executor of the estate to file an affidavit with the court seeking permission to distribute estate assets without needing to go through the probate process. Of course, one of the most important issues when determining whether an estate needs to go through probate is determining which estate assets must go through probate.
Estates valued at more than $50,000 must go through probate. However, there may be ways to reduce the number of assets that must pass through probate. This can free up estate assets more quickly, enabling heirs and beneficiaries to receive their inheritance without unnecessary delay.
The Probate Estate
Not all personal property is subject to the probate process. Essentially, any property held for the sake of a beneficiary explicitly named in the asset document is not subject to probate. For instance, if the deceased person had a life insurance policy that specifically named one or more beneficiaries, then that policy is not subject to probate. Instead, it passes directly to the beneficiaries named in the policy. Also, if any property is jointly owned—such as a jointly owned savings account—then the surviving co-owner takes possession of those assets without the need for probate. Finally, if any real estate is held in joint tenancy or tenancy in the entirety with the right of survivorship, then that property also passes without probate.
However, assets that are held solely in the deceased individual’s name with no named beneficiary are probate assets. In fact, beneficiary designations, while technically considered a probate avoidance strategy, must be updated frequently to ensure they have the intended effect. For example, if a beneficiary pre-deceases the estate owner, then what would otherwise be a non-probate asset may end up needing to go through the probate process.
In this way, beneficiary designations are a good example of the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” While they are perhaps the easiest probate avoidance strategy, they are also among the most likely not to work out as planned. Families looking for a more comprehensive solution should consider other probate avoidance strategies, such as a revocable living trust.
How Does Probate Work?
Essentially, probate begins when someone presents a deceased person’s will to the court for administration. The probate judge validates the will, enters it into probate, and appoints an executor to administer the estate. Most often, the executor is named in the deceased person’s will. However, if the executor is unable, unwilling, or legally prohibited from serving, the court will appoint someone to manage the estate.
Once appointed, the executor must carry out a series of tasks before they can make any distributions to the beneficiaries named in the will. For example, the executor then must notifies notify the heirs and any creditors that the will is in probate. Creditors must stake their claim to the estate within a specific timeframe, after which the executor uses estate assets to satisfy any verified debts, including any estate tax owed to the federal government. The executor then distributes the rest of the estate to the heirs according to the provisions of the will. Clarksville probate attorneys can oversee this process and protect the heirs’ rights every step of the way. One of the most common reasons heirs enlist the assistance of a probate lawyer is to challenge the deceased person’s will through a will contest.
If the deceased person died without a will, the probate process still happens, but it is called intestate administration. Without a will, the Tennessee rules of intestate succession kick in and dictate how the executor distributes assets. The intestacy laws in Tennessee are a strict set of rules that are in place solely to avoid a deceased person’s assets from escheating to the state. Thus, while intestacy laws work well as a backup plan, they fail to take your individual preferences into account. So, it is best to have a current will that outlines your intentions to ensure your assets end up where you want them to be.
As the oldest law firm in Clarksville, and one of the oldest in TN, Batson Nolan PLC has helped generations of farmers preserve the family farm through succession planning. Our Clarksville probate attorney understands first-hand the unique issues associated with agribusiness and the preservation of a farming legacy. We can help with the transfer of assets during life and at death.
Don’t leave your assets to be distributed by a judge according to the laws of intestate succession. Decide for yourself where your assets will go, and make sure your wishes will survive scrutiny in probate court. Contact Batson Nolan PLC’s estate planning lawyers now to plan ahead for the transfer of your assets—and help secure your family’s legacy—in the event of your passing. Call our Clarksville probate lawyer. You may also contact Batson Nolan PLC online to arrange an initial consultation.
Clarksville Will Lawyer
The foundation of an estate plan is a Last Will and Testament, or simply a Will. A will’s most basic function is to direct how your property is to be distributed upon your passing. Although this is the most important and understood function of a will, a will can also do many other things—name an Executor for your estate, propose guardians for your minor children, and even create trusts for your family and loved ones. It is important to understand how a will accomplishes these objectives, as well as understanding why planning for these situations is essential.
- Distributing your property. When a person makes a will, they are able to provide exactly how they want the assets of their estate to be distributed, and to whom they want to receive those assets. However, if someone passes away and failed to execute a will during their lifetime (referred to as “dying intestate”), it is the State of Tennessee that is given the power to decide how your property is distributed. Tennessee has “Intestacy Laws” that provide how your property will be divided. The way Tennessee divides up and distributes your property, is likely not how you would want your property to be distributed. A person can avoid all of this by simply laying out in a will where they want their assets to go.
- Naming an Executor. An Executor is someone named in the will who is responsible for carrying out the affairs and wishes of the deceased person. This is a very important role, and is generally given to someone that the deceased person finds to be responsible and trustworthy–someone that they believe will carry out his/her last wishes. If someone passes away without a will, thereby failing to nominate an executor for their estate, then any family member can ask the court to be appointed to serve in this role—even someone the deceased person would not want/trust to serve in this position.
- Proposing a Guardian. If you have a minor child or children, it is crucial that you have a will for the purpose of proposing to the Court who you would want to take care of your children should you pass away. Although any proposed guardian would not automatically become your children’s guardian, it provides helpful guidance to the court (who ultimately decides) on who you find to be the most suitable for raising your children should you pass away while they are still minors. If someone passes away without a will, thereby failing to nominate who they wish to serve as Guardian for their children, the court could ultimately appoint someone who you would not want to serve as your children’s Guardian.
- Creating Testamentary Trusts. Another important function of a will is the ability to create trusts within your will (referred to as Testamentary Trusts), which allows for one to create a more specialized distribution scheme in certain situations. One common testamentary trust that our Clarksville will attorney at Batson Nolan PLC includes in many wills is a Minor’s Trust. This allows for one executing a will, to provide a certain age at which a beneficiary can receive their inheritance—as opposed to receiving it all at the age of 18. For example, many clients like to create a Minor’s trust whereby their children would receive their inheritance only after attaining the age of 25. Additionally, one can structure their Minor’s trust to only distribute half of the child’s inheritance to them at the age of 25, with the other half being distributed at the age of 30. Other common testamentary trusts at Special Needs Trusts, as well as Dynasty Trusts.
As you can see, wills are not only important for directing how your property will be distributed when you pass away, but are also crucial for planning out many other aspects of your estate plan. If you own any assets or have minor children, it is critical that you have a well-drafted will. Contact our Clarksville will contests attorney at Batson Nolan PLC and set up an appointment, so that you can ensure your estate is adequately planned to carry out your final wishes.
Speak to our trusted Clarksville will contests lawyer. Call us to plan your estate today!
Plan My Estate
Estate planning, wills, trusts, probate…end-of-life matters can be overwhelming. Batson Nolan PLC’s Clarksville estate planning attorneys and probate lawyers are here to make preparing easier for you and the ones you love!
- Living Wills
- Powers of Attorney
- Planning Today for Tomorrow’s Farms
Estate Planning Worksheets prepared by University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service
- 2010 Tennessee Agritourism Cultivating Farm Revenue Conference
Presented by Jill Bartee Ayers
Farm Revenue Conference Choice of Entity PowerPoint (PDF)