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, TN estate planning attorneys at MHPS understand how hard it can be to discuss your end-of-life wishes. That’s why we take the time and guide you through the process, giving you 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 is the process of arranging how an individual’s assets will be managed and distributed after their passing. Having an estate plan ensures that your legacy passes on to the heirs and organizations of your choosing.
Most estate plans include a legal component and a non-legal component. In the former, an estate planning attorney reviews your personal and financial situation and creates documents to legalize your wishes. The latter component involves developing an investment strategy to secure your years in retirement.
Estate planning may seem like a complicated process, but with the proper guidance from estate planning attorneys in Nashville, it doesn’t have to be.
In Tennessee, estate planning allows us to create a plan of how we want our assets divided and our business protected once we have passed. It also can name who will make your end-of-life medical decisions if you are unable to do so yourself.
At MHPS, our Nashville estate attorney services include:
- Preparing a will
- Creating any type of trust
- Creating a conservatorship or guardianship
- Probate administration
- 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
- Creating a succession plan for your business
- Charitable planning
When Should You Start Planning?
Although no one enjoys thinking about death, it’s never too early to begin estate planning. A valid will or estate plan can help bring you peace of mind. With a well-thought-out strategy in place, you won’t have to worry about your family’s financial future once you’re no longer here to provide for them.
When Should you Update Your Plans?
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.
Also, an estate plan should not be carved in stone. As you age, your estate planning changes. Since your life can take a turn for the better or the worse at any time, you must be prepared to alter your asset-distribution plans accordingly.
How Estate Plans Changes As You Age
If you’re middle-aged, chances are, you’ll have more assets than a young couple and you’ll want to protect those assets. 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 so that the burden is not left on your loved ones will be important, having estate planning attorneys in Nashville help you with establishing advanced directives, a living will, and trusts can help you rest easy knowing that you and your family will have a clear plan for your future.
This may seem like a daunting task, and one you emotionally can’t handle alone. That’s why we offer estate planning services for those in Nashville, TN, and the surrounding areas.
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 distributed 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 those wishes are detailed in a will.
- 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.
The Risk of Living With Estate Plans
Remember, by failing to make these plans, you leave these decisions to the courts, which not only places you at a disadvantage but can hurt your loved ones. Often, when an individual dies without a will or an estate plan, issues that could have been resolved prior to their passing eventually jeopardize the asset distribution process. This can pave the way for increased estate tax liability.
To avoid the disadvantages of dying without a will in Tennessee, consider speaking to a Nashville estate planning lawyer. An attorney can help you understand all your legal options and create an estate plan that serves the best interests of your loved ones.
Who Needs Estate Planning and Why Is It Important?
An estate isn’t just for the wealthy. Any property you own (cars, property, cash, etc.) is part of your estate. If you want to use your assets to support family, friends, or causes that are important to you, you’ll have to create an estate plan with a Nashville estate planning attorney.
No matter how big or small your estate is, you’ll need an estate plan to make sure your loved ones receive their inheritance. It’s best if you talk to an estate planning lawyer in Nashville to get the paperwork in order as soon as possible. We will help you protect your assets and pass your legacy on to the right people.
Here are a few reasons why you need an estate plan.
To Exercise Control
When you pass away without a will, it’s impossible for anyone to figure out how you wanted your property to be distributed. Not to mention, no one will know who your children should be left in the care of. This means that the state (probate court) will dictate both of these things, and the decision may not be one you would have liked.
To Ensure Speedy Distribution
Needless to say, probate is a lengthy process. It could take months, or even years, based on how complex your estate is. Your family may fall into dire financial straits during that time. Having a will, trust, or concrete estate plan can make this process go much faster.
To Avoid Taxes
Estate and inheritance taxes can take a large portion of your property before it passes on to your heirs. However, there are several ways to prevent this. By executing an estate plan, you can set up trusts, irrevocable gifts, and joint accounts to manage your taxes effectively.
Estate Planning Law Firm FAQs
Estate planning attorneys are licensed professionals who focus on probate, trusts, and wills. Our primary job is to create legal documents in compliance with our clients’ wishes. Additionally, we can offer legal advice as and when required.
When it comes to estate planning in Tennessee, there are several things an estate planning attorney in Nashville can do for you. These include:
- Prepare a will or trust that’s hard to contest after your death
- Transfer assets into your trusts
- Appoint guardians to watch over your minor children
- Grant power of attorney to a reliable heir
- Plan for unexpected situations, such as the sudden death of an executor
While the terms estate plan and will are often used interchangeably, there are several differences. An estate plan is a detailed strategy that determines the fate of your assets during your life and after your death and often includes a will. Whereas a will is a singular tool that outlines how you want your property to be distributed once you pass away.
An estate plan generally covers more ground than a will. An estate plan uses multiple tools, including powers of attorney, advance directives, and trusts, among other things. Both fall under the umbrella of estate planning and should be entrusted to a Nashville estate planning lawyer.
In a way, estate planning is a crucial part of wealth management. Setting up an estate plan can help you establish your future financial goals and end-of-life desires. Additionally, it can maximize your heirs’ inheritance by preventing probate and intestacy.
To summarize, the primary objectives of estate planning are as follows.
- Transferring assets among intended beneficiaries.
- Reducing tax payment.
- Developing a proper succession plan for the family business.
- Designating assets to beneficiaries and deciding when they should get them.
By definition, estate tax is applied to the assets your heirs or beneficiaries receive. Each U.S. state has its own estate tax rates and exemptions, depending on the value of the estate and the relationship between the beneficiaries.
Tennessee’s inheritance tax was repealed in 2016 to encourage citizens to retire within the state. The only situation in which this tax may be applied is if a person died before 2016 and left a substantially valuable non-probate estate behind.
While Nashville doesn’t have an estate tax, other states do. If you have property in the following states, know that it will be subjected to local inheritance taxes.
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington, D.C.
Estate Planning FAQs
Preparing for the future can be daunting. But estate planning is very important not just for your end of life wishes, but for your family’s future. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions related to Tennessee estate planning.
In Tennessee, a will is a legal document that explains what you want to be done to your estate after you pass away. Wills give instructions on what you want your beneficiaries to receive as well as if you have minor children, who will become their guardian.
Within the will, you must declare an executor of your estate who will also ensure that any estate taxes or fees or debts you have left behind are paid through your estate.
Tennessee advanced directives include living wills and durable power of attorney for healthcare. Both are able to be revoked or changed. However you must ensure upon changing them, you follow the rules on what makes each valid.
A living will is a legal document that gives instructions to your loved ones or executor on what to do if you become incapacitated and are unable to make these decisions on your own. Such wishes may include life-prolonging medical care, Do Not Resuscitate, and palliative care.
A will determines what you want to happen to your estate once you have already passed.
A durable power of attorney is a legal tool that grants a named individual the power to make health care and end-of-life decisions on behalf of the person initiating the agreement.
In Tennessee, there is also a durable general power of attorney which focuses on property and contract rights instead of healthcare. The general power of attorney can make financial transactions like paying bills, collecting rents, voting stocks, running a business, buying or selling real estate, etc.
A Tennessee elder law attorney can help you with important estate planning measures like health care planning, retirement planning, conservatorships, nursing home rights, grandparent rights, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security planning as well as veterans benefits.
Whether your business is large or small, business succession planning can help you ensure your company is left to the people of your choosing who can continue to make the business successful. Not only can you divide up the ownership of the business, you can also determine how the various responsibilities are allocated among them when you are no longer involved.
Planning ahead will help your business when it comes to buyouts, employee compensation, stock options, and outside sales if business closure occurs.
A handwritten will is legal in Tennessee, however, there are some stipulations that make it a risky choice. To be valid, the will must comply with T.C.A. § 32-1-105:
“No witness to a holographic will is necessary, but the signature and all its material provisions must be in the handwriting of the testator and the testator’s handwriting must be proved by two (2) witnesses.”
The main purpose of a trust is to distribute the property or finances of a trust to a person or organization after the trust creator dies. The trust puts the control in your hands in a way a will cannot.
Visit our Tennessee Estate Planning page for more information or contact MHPS today.
Our Nashville Estate Planning Attorneys 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 MHPS, our estate planning attorneys 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 MHPS now for more information.