Planning for what will become of your property and responsibilities after your death can be an overwhelming task, governed by complex state and federal laws. Making plans to provide for your family’s future, however, can give you peace of mind. Knowing the basics of how estate laws work in your state can help you plan with confidence. These guidelines provide a basic overview for those getting their affairs in order in Tennessee.
What should you include in your will?
The will is the cornerstone of most estate plans. It includes basic details about:
- How you want your property distributed after your death
- Provisions for your children and other dependents
- Who you choose to be executor of your estate
- Charitable donations you may wish to make posthumously
If you die without a will, the state gets to decide what happens to your estate.
Can you avoid probate in Tennessee?
The legal process by which property transfers from a deceased person to his or her heirs is called probate. Settling an estate through probate can be lengthy, costly and confusing, so many people take steps to avoid probate. In Tennessee, property does not have to go through probate if it:
- Is secured in a living trust
- Is jointly owned, with survivorship rights in place
- Includes a transfer-on-death or payable-on-death designation, such as with a security, property deed or vehicle registration
Smaller estates may qualify for a simplified probate process.
What is financial power of attorney?
Getting your affairs in order does not only concern planning for a time after your death. This is a good opportunity to put some contingency plans in place in case there comes a time when you are unable to make choices or carry out certain actions yourself. Financial power of attorney is a tool that allows you to choose an agent who can act on your behalf in financial matters. You can limit the scope of what he or she can do and also set parameters for when surrogacy would become active.
How can you plan for your health care?
Many people have strong feelings about life support and other heroic health care measures. It is a good idea to document such preferences in a living will or advance directive, so that in case something happens, your family and medical team can act in accordance with your wishes. You can also designate someone to make health care decisions on your behalf. This is called medical power of attorney.
What else should you include?
Estate plans are as unique as the individuals. Once you have a will, medical directives, powers of attorney and other documents together, you may also want to add:
- A secession plan for your business
- Provisions for pets you may leave behind
- A comprehensive life insurance policy
- Funeral arrangements or preferences
You may even be able to devise a strategy for minimizing taxes, protecting the value of your estate.
How can a Tennessee estate planning lawyer help?
Estate planning is complex—and so are the state and federal laws that govern it. And even small oversights can cause big problems for your loved ones. Ensure your plans meet all legal requirements with the help of a Tennessee estate planning lawyer.