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Nashville Estate Administration Law Blog

What do I need to include in my will?

One of the reasons why a will could be invalidated after someone dies is because not all of the necessary components were included in the will. Sometimes, missing a single required component could invalidate a will. To protect your last will and testament from future legal challenges when you're no longer available to state your wishes, you should make sure that the following elements for your will were present:

-- You were at least 18 years old when you drafted the will.

Vital questions to ask before planning your estate

Before you start planning your estate, it's important to understand the lay of the land. For example, what kinds of things do you want your estate plan to achieve, and how will you go about planning your estate to achieve them? Because most estate planners and will drafters don't know what they need or what options are available, estate planning attorneys are skilled at asking their clients the following questions:

What's the primary reason why you are creating an estate plan?

Wills and will contests: Who can challenge a will?

Not everyone can contest a will. The individuals who can contest a will must be people who stand to benefit in the event that (1) the will is invalidated and the estate will be distributed according to Tennessee intestacy laws, (2) in the event that the will is invalidated and this results in honoring a previous will or (3) in the event that a subsequent will is honored.

Under Tennessee probate law, those who stand to benefit if the will is invalidated are known as "interested parties." Of course, these interested parties must have a valid reason for contesting the will, but if a viable cause of action for invalidating the will exists, the following parties might have the right to challenge the current will:

Managing inheritance expectations

Many children have expectations regarding what they will get from their parents when they pass away. One major cause of estate disputes between heirs and beneficiaries is when these expectations are not met.

For instance, some children expect the division of assets to be completely equal. If they feel like one child got slightly more than another, a complicated dispute begins. In other cases, one child may have a very specific asset that he or she expects to get -- a family heirloom, perhaps -- and could then start a dispute when it goes to someone else.

How Anthony Bourdain's trust kept his true wealth confidential

Not long after the death of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, it was revealed that his estate held a seemingly low value of approximately $1.2 million. However, the seemingly low value of Bourdain's estate is not likely the true amount of the late chef's estate because the TV star also had a confidential trust, the details of which will remain unknown.

According to court documents, Bourdain left the majority of his publicly-known assets that don't fall inside the trust to be inherited by his 11-year-old daughter. The breakdown of the chef's public estate included the following:

  • $425,000 in cash and savings
  • $35,000 in investment accounts
  • $250,00 in property
  • $500,000 in intangible property that includes residuals and royalties

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?

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