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Nashville Estate Administration Law Blog

Trusts can help you protect your children's inheritances

When you have a blended family, it's important that you take the time to do what you can to protect your children's inheritances. In a blended family, estate planning can become a challenge, as former spouses and various estranged relatives may try to take advantage of your estate.

If you are on your second marriage and have children with both of your ex-spouses, it's important to protect your children's inheritances directly. Some ways to do this include:

  • Reviewing the state laws that govern your assets
  • Talking to your former and current spouses about your obligations to each of them
  • Designating your beneficiaries in updates wills and trusts

Don't underestimate the importance of your will

A will is a vital document in any estate plan. Without it, no one can know your intentions and what you'd like to see happen with your assets. Without a will, your potential beneficiaries and heirs may fight over your estate, and they will likely have to go through probate, which is a long, drawn-out legal process.

There are many stories of families that have been ruined or trapped in long feuds over their deceased loved one's estate. From siblings fighting over the family home to close relations arguing over assets that they believe should go to them, it can be a real mess.

Contesting a will: There are reasons to do so

One thing that families have turned to more over time is the use of probate litigation. Probate litigation is more likely to involve large, valuable estates, but it can happen to any estate given the correct circumstances.

Probate litigation refers to a process during which the court decides what assets an estate contains, how to divide a person's estate and pay their taxes and expenses. The property is generally divided as the decedent dictated in their will, but litigation often comes when a beneficiary or family member wants to contest the will for some reason.

What should you consider before leaving an inheritance behind?

Inheritances can be a wonderful support for those who receive them, but investors may struggle to decide how much to leave their beneficiaries and when they should give it to them. If you have been investing for some time, the idea of giving away your assets might be difficult in and of itself. However, if you plan correctly, this can be a good move for your beneficiaries.

If you plan to leave money to your children, there are a few factors to consider. These include:

  • The relationship your child has with your family
  • The type of trust or trusts you want to set up for them
  • How you'd like to communicate your plans to your family

3 tips for executing a will

If you're the executor of a will, then you will be in charge of its execution. You'll have to carry out your loved one's wishes for them, since they are no longer able to do so.

It can be difficult to know where to start with will execution. Here are three tips to help you get started.

Protecting your inheritance when you marry or get divorced

Inheritances are one of the few things that can be positive about a loved one's death. Out of all the sadness and loss, they've left you something behind that you can cherish or use to your own benefit.

Inheritances are important to beneficiaries for a number of reasons, and benefactors leave them to individuals for a variety of reasons. For example, your grandmother might leave you a small trust fund to go toward a college education, or a parent might leave you property that you can live in or sell.

Making mistakes put an estate at risk after a loved one's death

In estate administration, there are some mistakes that you should avoid making. While making small errors can usually result in some trouble but be fixable, larger errors can be concerning on a number of levels. You could end up with long, drawn-out days in court if you fail to wrap up your loved one's affairs correctly.

When you're named the executor of an estate, it is your legal responsibility to finalize the affairs of the decedent. You are responsible for paying income and estate taxes, and you'll need to distribute assets from the estate.

Is there a difference between an heir and beneficiary?

One question lots of people have is how to know if they're the heir of an estate. Sometimes, family members or friends may make people beneficiaries without letting them know. Heirs are not the same as beneficiaries, though.

Heirs will always be blood relatives. So, if your mom or dad passes away, you'll automatically be an heir to their estate. There are laws that dictate which heirs will inherit any property left after taxes and debts are paid, so there is no guarantee that every potential heir will receive an asset from the estate.

Inheritances: Choose what you do with them carefully

One of the biggest questions people have about inheritances is what to do with them. It's very easy to spend the money or to use up the assets you receive, which may not be your goal.

If you'd like to take the best care of your inheritance, it's wise to sit down and talk about your options with professionals such as your attorney, financial advisor and others. You need to plan for the inheritance's use, deciding how you'd like to use it and how to handle the asset moving forward.

Last-minute changes to a will: You can fight them

Probate litigation refers to challenging all or part of a person's last will and testament, the appointment of an estate's personal representative or other parts of a person's estate plan.

Probate litigation is unfortunately necessary in some cases, particularly when greed or jealousy is involved. People who feel shunned by the will left behind may begin a case to fight for assets they may or may not be entitled to. Sometimes, litigation is necessary for positive reasons, too. For example, if your loved one changed their will shortly before their death, you may wish to litigate to fight the changes. You could have the will reverted to the previous version if changes were made due to undue influence.

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