Trusts & Estate Planning

Estate planning is a lofty undertaking that you should not have to do alone. With gaining information on wills, trust legacies, tax planning, and more, trying to plan your estate might be a time-consuming job that you would have to juggle along with your work, family life, and other responsibilities. If you would like to take some of the stress out of estate planning, you can contact one of our estate planning attorneys who will listen to you and help ease the burden of managing your assets. Contact the law offices of Griffin & Davis, PLLC to talk to one of our estate planning lawyers today.

Last Will/Testament

Following your death or incapacitation, it is important to secure the safety and comfort of your loved ones. Through the creation of a will, you can ensure that your assets will pass on to those whom you desire. The court will normally only pass on property to blood relatives and to those in your immediate family.  So if you desire non-blood relatives, friends, or charities to receive certain assets, you must notify the court of this through a written will. A will can also provide rules for beneficiaries who cannot be trusted with their assets or who may use them unwisely. If you have creditors or debts, a will can also protect your loved ones from taking on those payments and having your assets taken away by creditors.

Trust

A trust is an agreement between a Trustor, Trustee, and Beneficiary. It differs from a will but is still a useful tool that ensures your taxes are planned and your estate is protected. There are many different types of trusts which may be useful to you. Trusts can offer such advantages as:

  • Avoiding probate court – A will may have to go through probate court, which can take months or even a year. A trust does not necessitate probate court.
  • Saving money – Loved ones do not need to pay for probate court fees or other fees associated with going to probate court.
  • Assets going to loved ones quicklyBecause your beneficiaries do not need to go through a long probate court process, they can gain access to assets quicker.

 

Living Trusts

This is a document commonly used by people planning their estate/distribution for funds, but a living trust differs from a will. It allows the creator to retain power over their assets and will not become public record, like a will would be required to be. There are several different types of living trusts one may choose from:

  • Revocable Trust

A revocable trust allows the individual creating it to maintain control over their assets while they are still living. It is very flexible and can be revoked or changed at any time. It is popular with many and may be a good fit if you are looking to create a trust.

  • Irrevocable Trust

This type of trust cannot be changed or revoked and should not be used by someone looking for a more flexible arrangement. The bonus of an irrevocable trust, however, is that its assets cannot be accessed by creditors. They are useful for those who face a lot of debt or possible lawsuits.

  • Charity Trust

These trusts are created to help charities or causes of the creator’s choice. These trusts can grant great tax benefits as well.

  • Asset Protection Trust

These trusts can be enacted for a specific amount of time and all assets that are not distributed will return to the trust creator once that specified time has expired. This protects a trust holder’s assets and is useful for someone who does not want creditors to take their possessions.

Probate

Without a will or trust, your family and loved ones may have to go through probate. This is a lengthy and pricey process that involves going through your estate and itemizing all your property, which can take up to two years to complete and may not necessarily result in your loved ones receiving the assets that they are entitled to.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is necessary to make sure your decisions are being upheld if you have a trust or will, especially if you become incapacitated. Powers of Attorney can make health, financial, and other important decisions if you are living but, for some reason, are incapable of doing so. A Power of Attorney will also make sure trusts and wills are being followed after your death. The Power of Attorney can be appointed to a spouse, close friend, family member, lawyer, or someone else you deem qualified to go over your estate and ensure your wishes are being followed.

You can choose what responsibilities and powers your Power of Attorney will have. For example, you can choose to have a Power of Attorney that can make decisions about what health treatments and surgeries you should undergo if you are incapable of making those decisions yourself. You may also choose not to allow your Power of Attorney to make financial decisions on your behalf. This is not necessarily the best course of action because health procedures or other important things you need that require payment of some kind cannot be done and your Power of Attorney will not be able to use your finances to assist with your well-being.

Contact the offices of Griffin & Davis, PLLC today, if you need assistance with planning your estate. With decades of combined experience, we have handled many cases in the past which include negotiating trusts, revising estate plans, assisting with conservatorships, and more. If you are working on planning what will happen to your land and property following your death, it is in your best interest to contact a qualified estate lawyer. If you want to know your State’s laws regarding estate planning, talk to us at 931-837-2050 or 865-354-3333 and we will help connect you with an estate attorney who can provide you with the information you need.

FAQ

How often should I update my estate plan?

It is important to update your estate plan fairly often in order for your plan to continue to match your wishes for your future and for your loved ones. Every three to five years helps ensure that your plan remains current. It would also be helpful to update your estate plan after big life events, such as a wedding, birth of a child, divorce, or death in the family. During these events, your views on things may change.  People may come into or leave your life whom you may want to add or remove from certain important documentation.

I made a trust. Do I need to create a will too?

Yes, it is important to have a will even if you already have a trust in place. A will can provide backup for property that does not end up in your trust. If you do not have a will in place, your property may be distributed by how the State chooses, which may result in assets not going to those whom you desire.

Where should I keep my estate plan?

It is important that you keep your estate plan in a safe place where it cannot be stolen, such as in a bank or in a locked drawer at home. It is also important that a family member, executor, physician, and estate attorney have copies of the plan in order to access them.

If I move, will I need to get a new Power of Attorney?

If you move to a different state, it is normally not necessary to change your Power of Attorney and your Power of Attorney should still remain valid. However, if you move out-of-state, it is important to contact your Power of Attorney so that they can update themselves on the law in the state to where you are moving and so they know to provide medical decisions to hospitals that may be closer or farther away.  

What is Conservatorship?

A Conservatorship is when someone is determined by the court to be incapacitated. This can come from a number of reasons: if someone has dementia or other severe memory loss problems; if they are no longer able to move or do basic tasks by themselves; or if they have special needs. Once they are deemed incapacitated, they require someone to handle their well-being and financial affairs, known as the conservator. Often, the conservator is the next able-bodied relative such as the incapacitated individual’s son or spouse.

There are two different types of conservatorship:

  • Conversatorship of the person – The conservator is in charge of the individual’s clothing, food, and living arrangements. They may choose to hire assistance, transfer the individual to a senior-care facility, or help the individual themselves.
  • Conservatorship of the estate – The conservator is in charge only of financial assistance. In this case, the individual can take care of their own well-being, but the Court deems they need assistance with handling financial affairs.

Contact the law offices of Griffin & Davis, PLLC today to talk to one of our estate planning lawyers.  We are here to help you throughout Tennessee!