What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document which sets forth how you wish for your assets and property to be distributed following your death. You may identify the person or persons you wish to serve as the Executor or Personal Representative of your estate. If you have minor children, your Will should also list the person who you wish to care for your children if you pass away. While many people assume that only the wealthy need a Will, we strongly encourage everyone to have a Will. If you do not have a Will when you pass away, your assets may not be distributed according to your wishes, but instead pursuant to the laws of the State of Tennessee. The cost of administering your estate and distributing your assets to your heirs will likely be much more expensive if you do not have a Will.
Living Will: A Living Will is a document which lists your wishes for end of life care. It sets forth the medical procedures you do or do not want in the event you are no longer able to communicate or make decisions on your own. Decisions commonly addressed by a Living Will include what would happen if you could no longer breathe on your own, whether your organs should be donated, and any special instructions for your burial. By executing a Living Will, you can help spare your loved ones the pain of making difficult decisions about your medical care. You need to execute a Living Will while you are still able to think for yourself. The Living Will will only be used when you are too sick to make decisions on your own.
Durable Power of Attorney: A Durable Power of Attorney names an individual or individuals you are authorizing to stand in your place and to make financial and business transactions on your behalf. A Durable Power of Attorney make take effect upon signing, or it may take effect only in the event that you become incapacitated. With a valid Durable Power of Attorney, the person you have named will be able to assist you with things such as paying your bills or managing your investments once you are no longer able to do those things on your own. It is important to put a Durable Power of Attorney in place while you are still competent to do so. Once you are no longer competent due to dementia or another condition impacting your mental capacity, you no longer have the capacity to execute a Durable Power of Attorney.
At Shepherd and Long, P.C., our goal is to provide quality estate planning services at reasonable rates. Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your estate planning goals. We will work with you to identify your needs and determine the best course of action to accomplish your objectives.
Do I need a Trust?
A trust is a way to pass assets to a trustee who holds and manages those assets for the benefit of others. You have the ability to name a trustee or trustees of your choosing. Many people view trusts as a way to protect their assets and save their loved ones the headache and expense of the probate process. A trust can help you control how and when your assets will be paid out to your beneficiaries, which can be helpful when you have concerns about whether or not a beneficiary will spend the money wisely.
Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts: A revocable, or “living trust” allows you to create a trust and put assets into the trust during your lifetime, and yet still maintain control over those assets. You can later change the terms of the trust or revoke it altogether. An irrevocable trust, on the other hand, cannot be altered once you create it. An irrevocable trust can help protect assets from creditors. At Shepherd and Long, P.C., our goal is to help you make an informed decision about the type of trust that best suits your needs.
Family Trust: A family trust is a trust established to benefit the relatives of the grantor, or creator, of the trust. The purpose of a family trust is to benefit the grantor’s family. A family trust can be either revocable or irrevocable.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process of distributing a deceased person’s assets in accordance with their Will, or, if they passed away without a Will, in accordance with Tennessee probate laws. Steps included in the probate process are appointing a personal representative of the estate, authenticating the decedent’s Will, paying any debts owed by the decedent, and ensuring that the decedent’s remaining assets are distributed pursuant to their Will or Tennessee probate law. The probate judge presiding oversees the administration of estates. While the term “probate” causes anxiety for many people, we at Shepherd and Long, P.C., are here to ensure that the probate process is a smooth and painless as possible.
How long does the probate process last? According to the American Bar Association, the probate process, on average, is completed six to nine months after a case is opened with the probate court. This can vary depending on the probate court and probate judge and may take years if there are conflicts or disputes over the validity of a Will or distribution of assets.
Will my loved ones have to probate my estate? In some cases, probate may not be required. Assets such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts that designate a beneficiary or bank accounts with a “payable upon death” beneficiary pass on death to that beneficiary and are not subject to probate. Real estate held in joint names with rights of survivorship with a spouse or another person will also pass upon death to the surviving owner(s) and will not be subject to probate. We will discuss with you the importance of updating your beneficiary designations and titling your assets in a way to support your estate planning goals.
Talk To A Trusted Estate Planning And Probate Attorney
Call 865-999-0366 today and speak to a friendly and knowledgeable estate planning attorney in Knoxville, TN. Our lawyers will answer your estate planning questions and guide you on all matters probate.
Shepherd & Long, PC
Shepherd & Long, PC is located in Maryville, TN and serves clients in and around Rockford, Walland, Alcoa, Louisville and Blount County.
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