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Preparing for a time when you may no longer be able to make sound decisions on your own can be emotional and difficult for you and your family. But finding a compassionate lawyer should not add to the stress. The Nashville estate planning lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC understand how hard it can be to discuss end of life wishes. That’s why we take the time and guide you through the process, giving you the peace of mind knowing that everything will be taken care of once you pass away or become unable to care for yourself.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning may seem like a complicated process, but with the proper guidance, it doesn’t have to be.
In Tennessee, estate planning allows us to create a plan of how we want our assets divided, our business protected, once we have passed. It also can name who will make your end of life medical decisions if you are not able to do so yourself.
At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, our estate planning services include:
Preparing a will
Creating any type of trust, including irrevocable life insurance trusts and gift trusts
Creating a conservatorship or guardianship
Protecting your wealth from divorce, creditors, and people outside the family
Creating health care directives, including preparation of powers of attorney for health care and property, living wills, and HIPAA authorizations
If you own a business, creating a succession plan
When Should You Start Planning?
It’s never too early to begin estate planning. For many, the ideal time to begin estate planning is once you have completed your education and have begun your career. However, just because you write your will and have an advanced directive prepared at age 24, does not mean you can leave it as is. As major events occur, such as marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, etc., you should be reviewing your estate plans.
For example, if you’re newly married, you may not be thinking about end of life plans; however, it’s critical to be prepared for anything. If you have a child, you’ll also want to decide who the child’s legal guardian would be if something happens to you and/or your spouse. You can also plan to use a trust to provide financial care for your child.
If you have a child with disabilities, that may also add a layer of complications you will want to address sooner rather than later. By creating a special needs trust, you can help prepare for the future for your loved one if you can no longer care for him or her.
As you age, your estate planning changes. If you’re middle-aged, chances are you’ll have more assets than a young couple and you’ll want those assets to be protected. You may want to create trusts to minimize any possible estate and inheritance taxes.
And finally, as an older individual, you may be thinking about what can happen if you become disabled. While having your affairs in order as to not leave the burden on your loved ones will be important, having advanced directives, a living will, and trusts established can help you rest easy that you and your family will have a clear plan for your future.
Why Worry about Estate Planning Now?
For many individuals, estate planning only becomes urgent when tragedy strikes. But waiting until the last minute is not in your best interest. According to Forbes, nearly half of Americans over 55 still don’t have a will.
This type of thinking can lead to being ill-prepared if something should occur. By not preparing for the future, the following could happen to your assets and your family.
If you die without a will, it means you have died “intestate.” This means that the intestacy laws of the state will determine how property is distributed including your bank accounts, real estate, and other assets owned at the time of your death. Typically, assets will be divided to your parents or siblings. This is particularly important if you are unmarried but live with your partner. Because intestacy laws only recognize relatives, unmarried couples will not inherit any property or assets unless a will exists which detail those wishes.
If you do not have living parents or siblings, the estate will be divided in half between your parents’ relatives.
If you have a domestic partner in Tennessee, neither the state nor any municipalities provide specific rights to domestic partners.
Remember, by failing to make these plans, you leave these decisions to the courts which not only is placing you at a disadvantage but can hurt your loved ones.
Our Tennessee Estate Planning Lawyers Are Here to Help
Don’t leave these decisions to the last minute. Now is the time to plan for your future and the future of your family. At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, our estate planning lawyers will guide you through the process with the compassion needed. With years of experience in estate planning and administration, we know how to best protect your assets and prepare for the unknown.
If you’re ready to create a trust, set up a power of attorney, or write your will, we’re here to help. Contact us at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC now for more information.