Few things are as important as planning for the financial future of your family. While it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of life, it is crucial to set aside time to address the estate planning process. And the sooner you make time for this very important task, the better you’ll protect your family.
Through the use of wills and trusts, you can create an estate plan that will provide your family with peace of mind—both today and well into the future. The Hopkinsville wills & trusts lawyers at Batson Nolan PLC have unrivaled experience and knowledge in all areas of estate planning. Contact us today.
What Is a Will?
A will is a legal document where you detail how you want your property distributed when you die. In a will, you can name a personal representative, also known as an executor, who oversees the administration of your estate. You can also name a guardian for any minor children in your will.
Requirements of a Tennessee Will
Because wills are formal legal documents, there are strict procedures you must follow when creating a will. For example, a court will only validate a will if each of the following applies:
- The creator is at least 18 years old;
- The creator is of sound mind;
- The will is printed (electronic wills are not valid in Tennessee);
- The creator signed the will in front of two witnesses, neither of which are beneficiaries or heirs; and
- Each witness signs the will in the presence of the creator and the other witness.
If a will does not comport with these requirements, the court will disregard the entire will. Thus, it is essential to work with an experienced attorney who understands Tennessee will requirements when preparing your will.
What Is a Trust?
Trusts are versatile estate planning tools that serve many purposes. In general, trust creates a three-way relationship: The grantor creates the trust and names a trustee and beneficiaries. The trustee oversees the administration of the trust for the benefit of the named beneficiaries. A few of the things you can accomplish through a trust include:
- Converting income into non-countable income for Medicaid qualification purposes;
- Limiting a beneficiary’s access to funds;
- Protecting assets from creditors;
- Providing for a loved one with special needs without jeopardizing their government benefits;
- Reducing the assets subject to the probate process; and
- Reducing estate-tax exposure.
Most trusts are either revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust offers more flexibility but fewer benefits than an irrevocable trust. For example, through a revocable living trust, you can eliminate the need for trust assets to go through probate. However, trust assets in a revocable living will are not beyond the reach of creditors and are counted when applying for Medicaid benefits.
On the other hand, irrevocable trusts are far less flexible. They cannot be modified or terminated once created, but they provide excellent asset-protection benefits by removing trust assets from your estate. If these assets are no longer technically part of your estate, they aren’t counted when calculating estate tax or applying for Medicaid.
Given the wide range of trusts and the many goals they can help you accomplish, it is important to discuss your situation with an attorney for trusts. These professionals can help you determine which type of trust best suits your specific needs.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Is a Special Needs Trust?
A special needs trust is a type of trust that allows families to set aside assets for the benefit of a loved one with special needs. The main benefit of a special needs trust is that assets contained in the trust do not count towards determining benefit eligibility for Social Security or Medicaid benefits. In this way, a special needs trust is an incredibly useful estate planning tool as it allows you to provide for a family member’s special needs without risking their eligibility for government benefits.
Does Creating a Will Avoid the Need for Probate?
No, any of the assets addressed in your will are generally required to go through probate before being disbursed to your heirs. If you have non-probate assets, such as joint bank accounts, retirement accounts, or jointly-owned real estate, you should not include them in your will. This is because non-probate property automatically transfers to the co-owner or beneficiary upon your death, meaning there is no need for probate. On the other hand, personal property, real estate held only in your name, and cash in a bank account with only you as a signer are probate assets that should be included in your will. Determining which property to include in your will can be challenging. An experienced Hopkinsville wills & trusts lawyer at Batson Nolan PLC can help.
What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will in Tennessee?
If someone dies without a valid will, the court will distribute the deceased’s property according to the Tennessee intestacy laws. The intestacy laws act as a backup plan for those who died without a will to prevent their assets from ending up with the state. Thus, the intestate laws provide a framework for determining which family members will inherit estate assets. While intestacy laws work well as a backup plan, they fail to take your individual preferences into account. For instance, suppose you have no spouse and only one son who you are estranged from and haven’t spoken to in the past 20 years. Further, suppose that he is the last person you would want to leave your estate to. If you die without a valid will that states this clear desire, the chances are pretty good that your estranged son will end up with a significant portion of your estate because intestacy rules favor close relatives. Thus, it is always better to have a current, valid will on file that outlines your intentions.
Reach Out to Our Hopkinsville Wills & Trusts Attorneys at Batson Nolan PLC for Immediate Assistance
If you have questions about how to best incorporate a will or trust into your estate plan, contact a lawyer for wills and trusts at Batson Nolan PLC. We have more than 160 years of experience creating comprehensive estate planning documents on behalf of our clients. Our dedicated team of will & trust lawyers can help your family address all your estate planning needs, such as creating powers of attorney or a living will. To learn more and schedule a free consultation with the Batson Nolan PLC by calling one of our offices. You can also connect with us through our secure online contact form.
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