Maryville Wills and Trusts Attorneys
Experienced estate planning attorneys helping East Tennessee clients plan for the future
Preparation is the backbone of success. Wills and trusts are important parts of an estate plan that put all of your wishes and assets together, so it’s clear upon your death how things are to be handled.
Shepherd & Long P.C. has decades of experience with wills, trusts, estate planning, probate, powers of attorney, and other issues that arise under this umbrella. We know what is at stake if you die without a will. We want to help you plan for your family’s future after you are gone. Contact us in Maryville to schedule a consultation.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that outlines all of your wishes after you have died. It explains where your assets are to go and who is to care for your children if they are minors at the time of your death. Failure to create a will often leaves these important decisions up to the state of Tennessee.
Why you should have a will
It’s a common misconception to think that only wealthy people need a will. If you have money and/or children, you need a will.
- You can clearly state who in the family gets what asset
- You can prevent assets from going to people you don’t trust
- You are able to name who will care for your children
- Your loved ones will be able to access your assets quicker (once probate is finished, of course)
- You can make charitable contributions, give gifts, and save estate money on taxes
What types of wills does Tennessee recognize?
So long as your will was created according to the laws of that state, your will is still valid and recognized in Tennessee. However, Tennessee’s rules on descent and distribution vary from other states, which is why you should have your will evaluated by an experienced family law attorney if you are moving to Tennessee from another state.
Tennessee recognizes three types of wills:
- Formal (attested)
- Holographic (handwritten)
- Nuncupative (oral)
In order for a formal will to be recognized by Tennessee, it must be in writing, signed by the testator, and signed by two witnesses. DIY electronic wills, however, many not be recognized, so make sure to talk to an attorney about your options.
What does it mean when a will is contested?
When a will is contested it means that someone has formally challenged its validity in court. Wills can be contested for any of the following reasons:
- The signer was unduly coerced into signing the document
- The signer was not of strong mental capacity when signing the document
- There were no witnesses present when the will was signed
- The signature was forged
- The will was never signed
- There were fraudulent actions taken
- There are technical flaws with the will
- The signer signed the document under duress
What documents are needed by my Maryville estate planning lawyer?
You should bring the following with you when meeting with a lawyer to create a will:
- Deeds to all real estate
- The titles of all vehicles
- Checking account statements
- Savings account statements
- Money market account statements
- Retirement accounts
- Other investments
- Loan documents
- Consumer debt
- Hospital or other medical bills
- Home equity lines of credit
- Complete addresses and phone numbers
- Social Security numbers
- Dates of birth
- Birth certificates or adoption papers for any minor children
How do I create a trust?
Another important aspect of the estate planning process is to create a trust. A trust is a legal vehicle that permits a third party to hold onto and direct assets placed in the trust on behalf of the beneficiary (recipient) of the trust. The person in charge of the trust is the trustee. The process, while simple, should always be handled by a family law attorney. It includes the following:
- Identify what you want in the trust. A 401(k) and an IRA cannot go in a trust.
- Choose the type of trust. It’s smarter to choose revocable instead of irrevocable in the event you want to make changes.
- Choose the trustee or the person who will manage the trust.
- Have your attorney create a trust agreement.
- Sign the trust document in the presence of your lawyer and a notary public.
- Transfer the property into the trust to activate it.
You can name anyone you choose as the beneficiary of your trust. This includes your spouse, children, a friend, a charity, etc. You can also pick who is the trustee. You can name yourself as the trustee, which means you manage the trust. If you choose someone else, such as your attorney, he or she will manage the trust for you and ensure it meets all of your directives.
Financial guardianship for your children
It is prudent that you name a financial guardian for your children should you die before they reach adulthood (18 in Tennessee). The guardian will handle the money and other types of property, which can be used for the child’s care until they are old enough to do so on their own. When financial guardianship is assigned, the person put in charge will be required to make all of the financial decisions on behalf of the child until they reach adulthood or until the assets of the minor have been depleted.
Speak with a Maryville wills and trusts attorney today
If you do not have a will or are moving to Tennessee from another state, it is important that you speak with an experienced Maryville wills and trusts attorney. The team at Shepherd & Long P.C. knows how challenging this process can be for most people and that they don’t want to talk about death. We are compassionate, skilled attorneys who review all areas of family law for our clients to ensure they are protected. Call our office at call 865-982-8060 or fill out our contact form to schedule a low cost consultation.