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Nashville Estate Administration Law Blog

Do you need to leave money to someone with a substance problem?

Substance abuse is a common problem and most families have at least one person who is struggling with it. If you have someone like this in your family, and you plan to leave this person a sizable inheritance, the situation presents a unique estate planning challenge: How do you leave money to someone with a substance problem while preventing the individual from spending it on a potentially life-threatening addiction?

Many Tennessee estate planners might simply choose to leave their assets to someone else. However, through the creative use of a trust, you might still be able to reserve assets for your loved one without endangering his or her life.

What are the primary parts of the probate process?

Probate is the legal process that happens after someone dies. Probate court proceedings will determine the assets that someone has left behind and how to distribute them to heirs. If your loved one or relative has died, and probate proceedings are about to begin, here's what you can expect from the process:

-Determining whether a will exists, whether other wills may exist and which will is ultimately the one that's valid. If no valid will exists, then the distribution of the estate will be governed by Tennessee intestacy laws.

6 considerations for a valid and legal will

The worst thing that can happen with any estate plan is to have the will invalidated after the estate planner dies. This could render the entire goal of the estate plan moot, and then the estate could be managed (and divided) according to a prior will or Tennessee intestacy laws. To avoid a situation like this, estate planners must make ever effort to ensure their wills are valid by adhering to the following six requirements:

Voluntary. The creator of the will must not be forced, coerced or misled to create the document through the actions of others.

Aretha Franklin's death reminds us all to draft a will

The singer, Aretha Franklin, did not leave a will behind as a guide to distribute her estate assets. The singer's $80 million estate, which will probably be divided among her four sons will need to be probated according to intestate laws of her home state of Michigan. Her four sons have already filed the appropriate legal paperwork to lay claim to their late mother's estate.

Here's how the distribution of an estate happens when an individual passes away without a last will and testament:

When can I contest a will?

As we discussed in a recent post, three children of country music legend Glen Campbell filed a lawsuit to invalidate the singer's two most recent wills. Their claim was, essentially, that their father was not of sound mind due to Alzheimer's disease when he drafted the wills.

The first will in 2001 and the second in 2006 both served to disinherit the three litigants, leaving the entire estate to his current widow and five other children. This case brings up two questions: Is it possible to successfully challenge a will like this, and when can potential heirs invalidate a will?

Tennessee judge permits country singer's children to contest will

Three children of deceased country music legend Glen Campbell are pursuing legal action to contest two of the singer's wills. The children, who were excluded from two wills, may have the right to receive inheritances if their attempts to invalidate the wills are honored.

According to court papers, the three children at the center of the legal action were disinherited by the country singer, who died last August at the age of 81. The performer, famous for his hit "Rhinestone Cowboy" among other songs, suffered Alzheimer's toward the end of his life. On this basis, his three disinherited children suspect that their father was subject to undue influence that led him to remove them from his two latest wills, which he drafted in 2001 and 2006.

Estate planning for art collectors

You love your art collection, which is why you want to pass it on to your favorite people as a part of their inheritances. However, bequeathing art the right way takes advanced preparation to ensure that your loved ones benefit from your art pieces without suffering from tax burdens, arguments over who gets what and other probate-related nightmares after you're gone.

From an estate tax planning perspective, estate planners need to make sure that their art connections and total estates do not exceed the $11.18 million federal tax exemptions. If they do exceed this amount, then an art collection may require special strategies to ensure that all tax burdens are covered and accountable. Some estate planners, for example, will want to avoid the need to liquidate works of art to pay for tax liabilities and some advanced tax planning strategies may be required to achieve this.

Pursue a conservatorship for your parent with dementia

Anyone who has experienced the mental and physical decline of a parent with dementia remembers the moment when they realized their parent's health situation was serious.

Perhaps you went to visit your mother one day on a Saturday afternoon, and she momentarily couldn't remember who you were. Perhaps you brought your children to visit her, and she had trouble remembering their names. Maybe she got lost while driving to visit you.

Could a spendthrift trust assist my child?

Imagine you have an 18-year-old child, and you have $3 million in your retirement account. You know that your 18-year-old isn't ready to handle this amount of assets, but you also want your child to receive the money if you unexpectedly pass away. One way to handle this issue allows you to safeguard your assets from being spent irresponsibly while still permitting your son or daughter to benefit from them. The strategy involves the use of a spendthrift trust.

A spendthrift trust involves the creation of a trust with a spendthrift provision and other kinds of protective clauses. Estate planners can create these trusts immediately or set them up to be created automatically at death via a will or testamentary.

2 tips to make probate easier for your heirs

If you're planning your estate, you may be doing it more for your loved ones than anyone else. Although you will benefit from having a power of attorney in place for your health care and financial concerns in the event of your unexpected incapacitation, a sound and well-thought out estate plan will be of great benefit to your family members after you're gone -- especially in terms of the probate process.

Here are two things you can do while planning your estate to ensure that your heirs and beneficiaries have the easiest probate process possible:

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