A lot of people mistakenly believe that
estate planning is only for millionaires and billionaires. The truth is that everyone
should have a basic estate plan, regardless of their income or assets.
When you have an estate plan, it minimizes the confusion and stress experienced
by your loved ones after your death.
I have observed how estate planning can be hard for people to discuss.
Some people find it morbid and instead of addressing it during their lifetime,
they ignore it and let it be something their family or more specifically,
the state addresses when they pass.
When you die without a will, Tennessee’s intestate succession laws
determine how your assets are divided. You have no say in the matter and
your family has no control either. In other words, your assets will strictly
be divided according to the state’s laws that address estates without
a valid will or trust.
Why Would I Want an Estate Plan?
Maybe you’re not wealthy, but you have a few valuable assets lying
around. You own your home and you have a 401k or IRA. You may even have
a life insurance policy and a little of a nest egg in your savings account.
It’s not enough money to categorize you as “high-net-worth,”
but it will help your spouse or kids out when you pass away.
If you fail to get the proper estate planning documents in place, what
can happen is your assets, such as those mentioned above, can be locked
up for a long time – they can end up in limbo for years and your
loved ones may need to pay an attorney just to sort it all out.
At the very minimum, my advice is the have the following estate planning
documents. This way, you maintain control over your estate and your loved
ones won’t have to endure a protracted legal process to gain access
to your assets:
A will or trust. Keep in mind that a
will has to go through
probate, whereas a
trust does not, but it is more expensive to set up.
- A durable power of attorney, which is a written authorization that allows
someone you name to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
- Up-to-date beneficiary designations on bank accounts, life insurance policies,
and retirement accounts.
As a Nashville estate planning attorney, I can help you create these basic
estate planning documents and I can also suggest any other estate planning
methods as needed. To create a customized estate plan,
contact me for a free case evaluation.