Experienced Springfield Estate Planning Attorneys Ready To Serve You
Mention the words “estate planning,” and many people immediately think of making a will. But estate planning encompasses more than wills. It can include wills, trusts, assigning power of attorney for one or more purposes, and more. Estate planning is necessary for ensuring that the assets you spent your life accumulating get distributed according to your desires after you die. Our experienced Springfield estate planning lawyers can even help you get the most out of your money right now while you are still alive.
The worst thing to do is wait for a crisis before giving serious thought to planning for your family’s future. If you don’t plan ahead, a judge who doesn’t know you or your family will distribute your assets according to state law.
The complexity of an estate plan depends on the size of your estate and how detailed a plan you wish to leave. But it is faster and less complicated to formulate your plan ahead of time than most people think. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” applies just as strongly to your financial health as it does to your physical health. So get the preventative ball rolling by speaking to our knowledgeable Springfield estate planning lawyers at Batson Nolan PLC today.
For all estate planning needs, contact
Batson & Nolan PLC online or at (615) 382-4420.
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.
The most important reasons for creating an estate plan are to maximize your family’s inheritance, to minimize the taxes they must pay on that inheritance, and to make the process of transferring your assets as easy and painless as possible for those you leave behind. But creating a solid plan can accomplish other things you may not have thought of. It can:
- Ensure that persons of your choosing have fiduciary control over your estate;
- Ensure that persons of your choosing have guardianship over any minors or special needs loved ones you leave behind;
- Protect assets from unforeseen creditors;
- Ensure that assets are distributed to only those you choose;
- Provide for any special needs of a loved one; and
- Ensure that only persons of your choosing have decision-making authority for you should you become incapacitated.
Our lawyers have multiple tools in our toolbox to assist you in making these important decisions legally binding.
My wife and I contacted Batson Nolan to help us with our estate planning documents after being referred by a close friend. We did not have what we believed were enough assets to need formal estate planning, but the attorneys explained in easy to understand terms why making our wishes known was important, particularly for our children. The process didn’t take long, and we are much more comfortable knowing that our assets will be distributed in the manner we chose.
– Thomas C.
Tools Used to Plan Your Estate
The tools that our lawyers most frequently use for estate planning are wills, trusts of various types, and powers of attorney.
A will is a legally binding document that provides instructions to your family on how to distribute your assets when you’re gone. Writing a valid will is one of the primary ways to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your desires after you die. Wills must meet certain requirements in Tennessee:
- They must be executed by a person of sound mind;
- The testator must be 18 years of age or older;
- The testator must sign the document; and
- At least two other witnesses (preferably not beneficiaries) must sign the document as well.
While these requirements may seem simple, judges can invalidate a contested will if any reason exists to doubt its authenticity. As a result, taking extra steps to eliminate that doubt when executing a will is crucial. This is particularly important when you consider that dying with an invalid will is the same as dying with no will at all.
A Springfield estate planning attorney can make certain that your will is in top legal shape. Remaining in contact with your lawyer can also ensure that your well-drafted will continues to reflect your wishes as your circumstances change over the years.
What are the consequences of dying without a will?
When someone dies “intestate” (without a will), special laws of intestate succession govern the distribution of that person’s estate. Every state has its own set of intestate succession laws, but they all generally follow the same approach. Unfortunately, because these laws are designed to fill in the gaps, they won’t distribute your assets the same way you would have.
Unlike a will, intestate succession laws will not take into account soured family relationships or other special conditions you may have for the distribution of your assets. As a result, your personal property may go to the wrong person or end up somewhere you didn’t want it to. On the other hand, having a will allows you to tailor the distribution of your assets exactly the way you want to.
A trust allows you to distribute your assets in a slightly different way than a will. Trusts can be very flexible, and there are several types of trusts that serve various purposes. As estate planning tools, trusts can:
- Distribute your assets after your death;
- Help provide for a smooth transition of your assets during your lifetime if you become incapacitated;
- Help your beneficiaries avoid the expense and hassles of probate;
- Help your family legally avoid unnecessary inheritance taxes;
- Provide ongoing care for a loved one with special needs; and
- Stop an irresponsible loved one from blowing their entire inheritance in a short period of time.
For these reasons and more, many people use a trust instead of a will. However, they are not mutually exclusive; many estate plans make use of wills and trusts to effectively carry out the testator’s wishes. In general, you can categorize trusts into two broad groups: revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts. Both serve very different purposes.
With revocable trusts, the trust’s creator (called the grantor) retains the right to revoke the trust. In addition, they retain the right to use and enjoy the assets, add assets, remove assets, and make investment decisions with respect to the assets. A revocable trust, sometimes referred to as a family trust or a living trust, is a comprehensive plan to help manage assets of the Grantor while alive and to facilitate a quick transfer of said assets upon their death,
An irrevocable trust is used for asset protection. However, it requires the grantor to give up control. An irrevocable trust is not modifiable after the grantor creates it. The benefit is that an irrevocable trust shields your assets if someone obtains a judgment against you in court. If your assets are in an irrevocable trust, creditors can’t touch those assets even if they have a court order.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document in which an individual—the principal—gives a designated person broad power to act on their behalf. It affords you the ability to appoint those you know and trust the most to manage your affairs with respect to your finances and property.
Durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney bestows additional rights and obligations on the designated agent beyond that of a general power of attorney. For example, a basic power of attorney terminates upon the principal’s incapacitation or inability to manage their own affairs. In contrast, a durable power of attorney does the opposite. The designated agent retains the power to make healthcare and end-of-life decisions on behalf of the principal when they become incapable of consenting to treatment. The designated principal uses the power of attorney to communicate to doctors and hospital staff the wishes of the principal. In Tennessee, some courts refer to this as a “durable power of attorney for health care.”
Special power of attorney
In Tennessee, a special or limited power of attorney permits the principal to delegate specific duties to the designated agent. Unlike a general power of attorney, the principal limits the scope of authority for which the agent cannot exceed. For example, a principal may delegate to the principal the power to distribute their real estate assets and nothing else. A special power of attorney terminates upon the agent’s completion of their designated duties.
Springing power of attorney
A springing power of attorney kicks in only upon the happening of some future event. For example, a principal may choose this option in the event they become mentally incapacitated. Unlike a durable power of attorney, the agent has no authority until the occurrence of a designated event. Note that the process of determining whether the contingent event has “sprung” can often be contentious. It may require a court hearing.
What is the risk of not having a power of attorney?
A power of attorney allows you to choose the person you trust the most to make extremely important decisions for you. Sometimes said decisions literally involve life and death. If you become unable to manage your own affairs and you have not appointed another to do so for you, then a court may have to appoint a conservator in a public hearing. This may take a long time and cost a significant amount of money. In addition, without a power of attorney, your end-of-life preferences and other health-care-related matters may go unobserved. A Springfield estate planning attorney can help you draft your power of attorney forms. We can also advise you on how to choose the right person for the job.
Experienced Springfield Estate Planning Lawyers Can Help
Planning what happens to your estate when you die is not a do-it-yourself task. People who download a will form from the internet and fill in the blanks have no idea that this document can be useless if it hasn’t met certain requirements. And over the years, life changes. That do-it-yourself will you created 15 years ago may not be ideal for your life today or 30 years from now. Our seasoned Springfield estate planning attorney from Batson Nolan PLC can save your loved ones much grief upon your demise. Not only will our Springfield estate planning lawyer help you build the best plan for your current situation, but our lawyers can also help update your plan as circumstances change over the years.
Call our Springfield estate planning attorneys today or contact us online to set up a free consultation in our Clarksville or Springfield office.