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Nashville Estate Administration Law Blog

What information is required to finalize your estate plans?

Tennessee residents who are setting up their wills and other estate planning documents will need to gather specific information that's required to finalize their plans.

To help you gather the most relevant information needed for your estate planning endeavors, use the following as a pre-estate planning information checklist:

  1. The names, birth dates and contact information for everyone who will be named in the will
  2. The names, birth dates and contact information of all named guardians of children of the person planning the estate
  3. The source and amount of income the estate planner earns -- including dividends and interests from investments
  4. A listing of assets contained in retirement accounts or details associated with government benefits, pensions Keogh accounts and any business profit-sharing arrangements. This list should also include the beneficiaries associated with these accounts
  5. A listing of financial assets, including annuities, bank accounts and loaned money that is owed to the estate planner. This list should also include any beneficiaries associated with these accounts
  6. A listing of all debts, including auto loans, mortgages, credit cards, business loans and installment loans
  7. A listing of personal property of value, including its estimated value. This includes jewelry, real estate, collections, furniture, family heirlooms and more. This list should also include who the estate planner wishes to inherit this personal property
  8. A listing and appropriate description of any property that is jointly owned along with the name of the other owners
  9. Legal documents -- like prenuptial agreements, tax returns, divorce agreements and divorce decrees, marriage certificates, previous wills, property deeds and trust documents -- that might influence the estate plan
  10. A listing of safe deposit boxes, where they are, how to access them and what's inside them
  11. A list of digital assets, like accounts and passwords for bank accounts, social media accounts and digital information storage accounts

The death of two stars brings up estate planning questions

The unfortunate deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade highlight the issue of estate planning when separated, but not yet divorced. In both of these tragic celebrity suicides, Kate and Bourdain had separated from their spouses. These cases reveal the complexities that can arise in such cases, when marital estate laws still apply, even though the couples weren't really together anymore as couples.

As far as the news media reports, both Spade and Bourdain had amicable relationships with their estranged spouses, and the decisions to permanently separate had been mutual. However, this does not make it any easier for the family law and estate law questions that will arise in the wake of their deaths.

3 advantages offered by trusts in estate planning

If you've considered drafting a trust as a part of your estate plan, you probably have some specific trust benefits in mind. Indeed, while trusts might not be for everyone, from an estate planning perspective, these highly flexible documents offer their creators -- and their beneficiaries -- some distinct advantages over a traditional will.

Here are three advantages of a trust you might want to consider:

  • Trusts are private: Did you know that your will is a public document? Once the probate process begins after your death, anyone can look up the details of your will and anyone can determine who is getting what with regard to your estate. Trusts, however, are different. These are private documents and the assets inside them are kept confidential, as well as the people who benefit from those assets.
  • Trust assets skip the probate process: Since your trust is technically a separate legal entity, the assets you place inside the trust become the property of the trust, and they're not yours anymore. This means that they're not a part of your estate and won't be subject to the probate process. The assets inside the trust will be managed by the trustee in accordance with the way you drafted the trust, and the beneficiaries of the trust will be the ones who immediately benefit from those assets (without the need for probate).
  • Trusts give you more control of the way you distribute your assets: Imagine you have an alcoholic son, and you don't want him to receive $4 million immediately after you die. Rather, you'd prefer that your son receives $2,000 monthly from the trust until he dies, and then you'd like the remainder of the trust to go to a special charity. This kind of creative asset distribution plan -- and so many others -- are available to trust creators.

Avoid these 2 estate planning mistakes

Everyone needs an estate plan – even people who don't have any personal assets. This is because estate plans cover more than just financial concerns. An estate plan will designate who will care for your children in the event of your incapacitation or death. For that matter, an estate plan will also establish who will care for you – with regard to your medical and financial decisions – if you're too ill or injured to make such decisions for yourself.

When you're creating a viable estate plan, there are many pitfalls that you can make if you're not careful. Here are two common errors that inexperienced estate planners make:

Widow and sons of Alan Thicke navigate inheritance disaggreement

Actor Alan Thicke unexpectedly passed away from a ruptured aorta in December 2016. Although the actor took the time to build an estate plan intended to provide for his wife and sons, the Thicke family has since fallen into a disagreement regarding the dispensation of the late actor's estate. According to Thicke's widow, Tayna Callau, her stepsons, Robin and Brennan, have been hiding details with regard to her estate dispensation -- which she has yet to receive approximately a year and a half after her husband's death.

As a result of the disagreement, Callau has filed court papers that claim her stepsons have withheld her rightful inheritance. The court documents also claim that her stepsons are charging her expenses and taxes.

2 reasons to talk to your kids about their inheritance

When it comes to divulging your estate plans to your children, you might be tempted to keep it a secret -- and you won't be alone. Many parents would rather not have such heavy discussion with their kids. Perhaps you don't want to make your children feel bad by talking about your death. Or, maybe you're worried that your children will react badly to your estate plans and disagree with the way you hope to divvy up your estate.

If you're feeling like this -- or if you don't want to talk with your kids for some other reason -- you would be well-served to put these feelings aside. There are two extremely important reasons why you will want to have "the talk" as soon as possible from an estate planning perspective:

A few important facts about wills

If you're creating a basic estate plan, the most important document you'll need to execute is your last will and testament. Your will establishes guidelines for the dispensation of your estate assets and achieves other important things.

Here are a few things you might want to know about wills:

Things to remember about a living will

When creating an estate plan, you'll spend most your time thinking about what will happen to your assets, such as your home and bank accounts, after your death.

While it's important to focus on these things, you also need to think about your health and well-being while you are alive. And this is where a living will comes into play.

A few ways you might be able to contest a will

If you're not happy with the way you were treated in your loved one's will, don't feel guilty or bad. It could be that the will was not legally valid. It could be that the will was not what your loved one actually wanted. It could be that you have a viable will contest claim to make that would allow you to receive your just inheritance.

Here are a few common reasons for a will to be invalid:

Cryptocurrency billionaire dead just before going to rehab

The billionaire cryptocurrency investor Matthew Mellon was found dead at a hotel room in Cancun only a day before he was supposed to check into a drug rehab facility. The facility said that the man arrived in Cancun with an entourage on a private plane last Sunday, but he never made it to the rehab center.

Reports indicate that Mellon checked into a Cancun hotel the night before he was scheduled to report to the rehab facility, Clear Sky Recovery. However, he was found dead at his hotel the following morning on April 16. Mellon had intended to use the controversial ibogaine drug in his addiction therapy. Ibogaine is banned in the United States.

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