When someone dies without an estate plan, it can take years to distribute his or her property and assets, which can result in contention between family members. If you do not have a will or estate plan, you should meet with a capable estate planning attorney to discuss your options for protecting your property and assets in the future. The Savannah estate planning lawyers at Hagenbrok & Hagenbrok PLLC assist clients in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. We can work with you to develop a plan that aligns with your current needs and your goals for the future, giving you the peace of mind that your estate will be properly distributed after you are gone.What Happens Without a Will?
If a person dies in Tennessee without a valid will, his or her property will be distributed in accordance with Tennessee’s intestate laws. If a person was married at the time of his or her death but did not have any children, his or her spouse will be entitled to the entire estate. If the deceased person had children, the spouse will be entitled to either one-third of the estate or a child’s share of the estate, whichever is greater. The remainder of the estate that is not granted to the spouse will be divided among the deceased person’s descendants. If a person dies without a spouse or children, the estate will be granted to his or her parents.Restructuring of Assets
Depending on the circumstances, it may be prudent for a person to transfer his or her assets or property to a trust or a loved one to avoid adverse consequences at a later date. Our estate planning attorneys can advise Savannah residents and other clients on these strategies. While there is no estate tax in Tennessee, other states impose an inheritance tax on any assets granted to an heir or beneficiary. Depending on the value of the assets, inheritance taxes can be costly. If you own property that may be subject to inheritance tax and wish to avoid tax penalties for your loved ones, you may consider transferring the property to a trust or to your heirs directly.
Additionally, many people are concerned about protecting their assets in the event that they need Medicaid in their later years or if they become ill. While people can validly transfer property and assets in order to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, there are numerous factors to consider to determine whether transferring property is in a person’s best interest, such as the tax implications, the loss of ownership of the property, and when any transfer should be completed.Wills and Trusts
The two most common instruments with which our Savannah estate planning attorneys assist our clients are wills and trusts. A will allows a person to dictate how his or her property should be distributed after his or her death. People can also draft living wills to dictate the care that should be rendered if they are unable to make decisions themselves, and they can grant a person power of attorney to make decisions for them if they become mentally incompetent.
In Tennessee, anyone who is 18 or older and of sound mind may create a will. To be valid, a will must be in writing and must be signed by the testator and two witnesses, who must sign it in the testator’s presence. Any competent person can act as a witness, but it is advisable for any witness to be a disinterested party who does not stand to benefit under the will to avoid claims of undue influence at a later date.
Similarly, a person can create a trust to hold certain property for the benefit of another person. Trusts are generally created by individuals with substantial assets to avoid tax liabilities. There are a variety of trust instruments, and the type that is most appropriate depends on the goals of the settlor of the trust.Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer in the Savannah Area
It is prudent for anyone with property or assets to develop a thorough estate plan to delineate how their estate should be handled in the event of their death. At Hagenbrok & Hagenbrok PLLC, we can work with you to develop a plan that is appropriate to meet your needs and desires. Our attorneys regularly assist people in estate planning matters in Savannah, Crump, Adamsville, Milledgeville, Saltillo, Olivet, Walnut Grove, Shiloh, and elsewhere in Hardin County. We can be reached at (731) 438-8071 or through the form online to schedule a consultation.