Professional Maryville Estate Planning & Probate Attorneys
Helping families in and around Blount County with wills, trusts, and power of attorney
You’ve worked hard to build a good life for your family. As you look toward the future, you need to take action to ensure the continued care of your loved ones in the event of your death or incapacitation. Depending on your personal circumstances, a simple will may not adequately protect your heirs. Sometimes you may need more comprehensive estate planning to ensure your wishes are carried out properly.
The experienced Maryville attorneys at Shepherd & Long, P.C. can help you develop a cohesive estate plan. Our legal team has decades of collective experience helping individuals with estate planning and family law services. We regularly help clients by providing guidance, developing effective plans, and offering full litigation when needed to protect your rights and the rights of your heirs and loved ones. We invite you to contact us at your convenience to learn more about how we can help.
What are estate plans and why do I need one?
Many people believe that a will provides full protection against all issues involving your estate. However, wills can leave your heirs vulnerable to decisions made by a probate court, and wills may even be contested by individuals you do not want to inherit any portion of your assets. Our Maryville estate planning lawyers help our clients develop an effective estate plan with the components that work for you, including:
- Durable power of attorney. You should designate an individual you trust to handle your financial matters in the event that you’re unable to meet these important responsibilities.
- Healthcare power of attorney. You can appoint a person whom you trust to make decisions on your behalf in the event of injury or illness that prevents you from making vital decisions concerning your medical care.
- Living will. A Maryville estate planner can help you create a legal document that provides medical professionals with clear instructions pertaining to the care you want if you become permanently incapacitated.
- Trusts. By placing your assets in a trust, you can help your heirs avoid the probate process after your death, reducing or eliminating the need for estate litigation. (More on probate below.)
Thorough and detailed estate planning can help your family avoid lengthy and costly probate.
What is probate?
If a person dies without a will, the court appoints a representative (typically a spouse or child) to settle the estate. This is called probate, and the entire estate is frozen until the probate process is complete. The representative is responsible for gathering the assets and debts of the estate, paying bills and taxes, and distributing the remainder among beneficiaries.
The purpose of probate is to prevent fraud and turning the distribution of your estate into a free-for-all. However, a proper estate plan or will can reduce the stress on your loved ones after your death or incapacitation, as well as reduce potential legal fees if someone decides to dispute the representative’s decision.
Do I need a will even if I’m not wealthy?
Without a will, the court can end up making the decisions about how your property and assets are distributed after your death, and there is no guarantee that any of it will go the way you wish. The court does not care who gets what, and that includes everything from your home to your beloved pet dog. A will or estate plan is the only way to ensure your assets and heirlooms go to the people you choose. This is especially important if you plan to leave property to individuals who are not blood relatives. The Maryville estate planning attorneys can help you draft a will personalized to your specific situation.
What are Tennessee living wills and healthcare directives?
As we age, we need to think about our health and our wishes in the event of a serious and debilitating illness or condition. A living will and healthcare directive allows you to decide in advance the limits to which you want medical professionals to take to save your life. Giving a loved one medical power of attorney can grant decision-making authority in the event you are unable to give your own consent. You can learn more about Tennessee advance healthcare directives in both English and Spanish.
What is power of attorney?
You can assign power of attorney to someone you trust implicitly. It is true that power of attorney does provide a great deal of power, but you can customize and shape this legal document so it works exactly the way you want. Some of the legal matters your power of attorney can handle, in the event you cannot, include:
- Handling funeral and burial arrangements
- Handling property or real estate
- Hiring lawyers or other professionals
- Making business decisions
- Management of financial accounts
- Providing your family with financial support
- Signing tax and other documents on your behalf
Remember, you do not have to have all of these in a power of attorney document, and you may add others to your document as well. The East Tennessee estate planning lawyers at Shepherd & Long can help you build a solution that works specifically for you and your unique goals.
What are the different types of powers of attorney in Tennessee?
There are four kinds of power of attorney, all with different levels of authority.
Limited power of attorney
A limited power of attorney grants someone power to act on your behalf, but for a limited time and purpose only. You may want to designate a person power of attorney while you undergo surgery, or give someone power of attorney to sign documents on your behalf in the event you are unable. Limited power of attorney expires at the time you set.
General power of attorney
This type of power of attorney is much more comprehensive. The chosen individual has the power to sign documents, make financial transactions, and pay bills. Many people use a general power of attorney even when they are not completely incapacitated but do need informed assistance with financial matters. Often this will be a spouse or child. General power of attorney ends upon your death, complete incapacitation, or when you wish to rescind it.
Durable power of attorney
Durable power of attorney can be either limited or general, but the difference is it stays in effect after you’re incapacitated. Without a durable power of attorney, if you are incapacitated, you will have nobody to act on your behalf. And if there is a dispute, the court appoints someone. Durable power of attorney stays in effect until death, unless you rescind it.
Springing power of attorney
This type sets up your power of attorney in the event you become incapacitated, but does not go into effect unless you actually become unable to make your own decisions. With springing power of attorney, it is crucial the document is worded correctly and in detail regarding what defines incapacitation, and what will trigger the power of attorney.
The Maryville estate planning lawyers at Shepherd & Long are happy to sit down with you and your trusted loved ones to develop a plan that works for you.
Contact experienced estate planning attorneys in Maryville for the support you need
You work hard to provide financial protection for your loved ones in life but you need an experienced estate planner in Maryville to put a plan in place that protects them from loss of funds and unnecessary estate litigation. The smart and strategic legal team at Shepherd & Long, P.C. can help. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call us at 865-982-8060 or fill out the contact form. We regularly represent clients in Madisonville, Oak Ridge, Lenoir City and throughout East Tennessee.