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Nashville Estate Administration Law Blog

Not all young people will get the inheritances they expect

Sixty-eight percent of young people under the age of 35 believe that they'll be receiving an inheritance one day. However, just 40 percent of their mothers and fathers plan to leave an inheritance behind. This research, produced by Natixis U.S. Investor Survey, points to the fact that the millennial generation might want to reconsider whether their assumptions about inheritances are correct.

Millennials are also hopeful that they can retire by the age of 59 and that an inherited estate will assist their retirements. Interestingly, this 59-year-old retirement age is a full six years younger than when baby boomers plan to leave the workforce.

Avoiding probate wth joint property

No one wants their heirs and beneficiaries to have to go through probate proceedings. The process can be slow and costly to complete. Nevertheless, every Tennessee estate must be reviewed and closed out by a Tennessee probate court. This, however, does not mean that your heirs should have to wait for their inheritances.

With proper planning, there are various estate planning strategies that can be employed to bypass the probate process for certain assets and certain heirs. One of the most common probate-avoidance strategies relates to joint property ownership.

Estate of Alan Thicke falls into dispute

The famed Canadian-American actor Alan Thicke, who rose to prominence on the beloved situation comedy "Growing Pains," died six months ago. Now, the actor's estate has fallen into dispute in Los Angeles Superior Court. The dispute relates to a 2005 prenuptial agreement between Thicke and his wife, and the way the agreement conflicts with a 1988 trust that was amended in 2016.

The prenuptial, signed by Tanya Callau, brings up questions regarding what is to be deemed community or marital property and what is to be deemed separate property and how those assets should be divvied up between the actor's widow and his three children.

Situations when you need to change your will

A will is not a "static" document. At different points in your life, you'll need to change or update your will, perhaps depending on the number of children and grandchildren you have, your marital status or other changing life circumstances that could affect both your estate and the people who will inherit your estate.

The following are some common circumstances in which you will need to change or alter your will:

Mistakes to avoid with your inheritance money

Approximately 33 percent of Americans will receive at least one significant inheritance. This money will no doubt be very useful to you in paying off long-term debt like a mortgage, or helping to finance a child's education. However, there is also the danger that you could squander the inheritance unwisely. This happens more often than you might think.

Here is some advice you'll want to consider following a big inheritance:

What do we do for our will planning clients?

At the Law Office of Mary C. Lagrone, we help Tennessee residents create wills that protect their legacies for future generations. We are a small firm that provides personal attention with one practicing lawyer and her paralegal, treating you like family more than a client.

Whenever a new will planning client walks through the door of our offices, we take every effort to know their circumstances. We know what questions to ask to help guide clients through what can be a confusing mix of estate planning options. Indeed, estate planning law is flexible, and many estate planning tools are quite malleable. Whatever your family, financial, health or life situation happens to be, we will find a solution that fits your needs.

Should I keep my inheritance details a secret?

A recent survey conducted by the Institute for Private Investors and the Wilmington Trust discovered that approximately 67 percent of individuals are afraid to share information about their estate plans with heirs. Many of these individuals say that they don't want to disempower or demotivate their heirs.

On the surface this may be a valid concern. Of equal concern to estate planners, however, should be the question of whether an unaware or unprepared heir stands the chance of putting a family inheritance at more risk of being mismanaged. There is also the fact that family members stand a greater chance of arguing and disagreeing over the dispensation of an estate when the dispensation plan comes to them as a surprise.

Probate estate administration and will contests

In the best of circumstances, everyone will honor the terms of the will left by your deceased loved one, and your loved one will have made those terms exceedingly clear and easy to follow. However, complicated issues can arise during the probate process that interfere with the swift and easy dispensation of an estate. For example, more than one will might exist, or the will on file might have been signed under duress. These kinds of issues could result in the validity of the will being challenged.

Imagine, for example, that your mother passed away. Just before she died, however, she drafted a new will. That will disinherited several family members who stood to receive large inheritances. The disinherited family members may be upset and hurt, and they may come to think that the new will is invalid. They might try to challenge the validity of the will, for example, by saying that the family members who stood to gain from the new will coerced your mother to draft and sign it.

What will my spouse receive if I die without a will in Tennessee?

A large number of Tennessee residents have never created a will. In cases where a spouse without a will dies, the other spouse will be entitled to the greatest portion of the estate under Tennessee's intestacy laws. Let's take a look at how this process works.

The amount that the spouse of a deceased person can receive will largely depend on the living descendants of the decedent. If, for example, there are living sons, daughters, grandchildren or even great-grandchildren, these individuals will be able to receive some portion of the estate. If no living descendants are available to receive an inheritance, then the spouse will receive everything. Even if there are living descendants, though, the spouse's share must be at least one-third of the estate.

What's a spendthrift trust?

Let's say that you want to leave a large portion of your estate to an heir who is -- in your opinion -- less than financially responsible. You might be concerned that your heir will quickly spend all of the money that he or she receives. You might also know that with a sound financial strategy, the money you leave behind will be enough to last your beneficiary for the rest of his or her life.

It's in these circumstances that a spendthrift trust can be a practical solution. A spendthrift trust doles out the money you leave to your beneficiary in small payments over time so that your beneficiary cannot spend it all at once. Although a spendthrift trust might not be the favored solution of your beneficiary, in the long run, he or she will eventually come to understand the wisdom of your ways -- especially if the structured trust payments offer him or her financial security for many years to come.

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