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Nashville Estate Administration Law Blog

Can an estate representative get paid?

Serving as the executor of an estate, personal representative or the estate administrator can involve a lot of time, work and dedication. In fact, the duties could be so overwhelming in the case of a large and complicated estate that you don't have time to do anything else -- like your job. If you are managing an estate like this, you can have the estate pay you for your services.

In the case of most complicated estates, the last will and testament will sometimes provide guidance regarding how the personal representative can receive compensation for his or her services. Sometimes, the fees will be limited by the last will and testament. Other wills may simply say that the representative should receive reasonable compensation. Rather than providing a fee, the estate might award a specific bequest to the representative. If nothing is mentioned in the will or no will was made, the payment to the personal representative will be governed by state law.

Estate tax planning: What happens to inheritances from overseas?

The world is getting smaller, and the borders between countries are becoming more porous than ever. Many Tennessee residents have close family and friends living overseas, and what does that mean for estate planning? It means that you could potentially receive an inheritance from someone abroad, and that means that special taxes will apply.

Many people who are going to receive an inheritance -- or have received an inheritance -- from another country want to know what kind of taxes they'll be subjected to if they bring their inheritance back to the United States. Generally speaking, inheritances of property from foreign sources will not be subjected to an inheritance or gift tax. However, other kinds of taxes could apply.

When is an oral will acceptable in Tennessee

In the last blog post, we talked about holographic wills and when these may or may not be accepted by the court. Essentially, a holographic will relates to a will that's handwritten -- and it may or may not have witnesses. This week, we'll discuss the "noncupative will" -- which is a special kind of an oral will. As you can expect, an oral record is not the best for the purposes of clarity, nor is it the best for the purposes of withstanding challenges in court. Nevertheless, in select circumstances, it could be the only thing that a Tennessee court has to go on.

Here are the circumstances that generally must be present in order for a Tennessee court to certify an oral will:

  • The noncupative will must be made by a testator (a person who creates the will) who is imminently in peril.
  • The noncupative will only becomes valid when the testator dies from said peril.
  • The noncupative will must be spoken in front of two witnesses who do not benefit from the will.
  • The noncupative will should be transmitted into writing by one of the two witnesses either written by the witness him or herself, or by someone acting as the agent of the witness, within 30 days of death.
  • The transmitted noncupative will must be filed with the probate court within six months of the testator's death.
  • The noncupative will only functions for personal property that doesn't exceed $1,000. However, if the testator is active in the military during a time of war, then it will function up to a limit of $10,000.
  • A noncupative will cannot change or revoke the legal status of a written will.

What's a holographic will?

It sounds futuristic, like it would be a good thing, but a holographic will is not the kind of will that anybody wants. That's because challenging a holographic will is simple, and they are subject to being invalidated in court.

The term "holographic" when it's applied to wills means that no one was present to witness the signing of the document. In order for a will to be valid, a typed, hard-copy version of the will must be signed and dated by the testator while two adult witnesses are present. It's important that the witnesses are not heirs of the will.

A few notes on choosing the best executor for your estate

When it comes to choosing an executor, you should carefully consider your options. Being an executor requires a lot of responsibility, and depending on the complexity of your estate, it could require specialized financial and legal knowledge to carry out those responsibilities effectively.

Let's take a look at a few points you need to keep in mind when selecting who shall assume this responsibility on your behalf and the rest of your family's behalf.

Inheritance: What millennials need to know

The millennial generation will be inheriting approximately $30 trillion from their parents, the baby boomer generation. This is a great deal of money, but no millennial can be certain what he or she will be inheriting until his or her parents reveal their estate plan. If you are a millennial, and your parents haven't told you their plans, you might want to talk to them about it.

If you're not convinced, here is why you should chat with your parents about your estate planning:

  • You need to understand your parents' wealth transfer plan: If you and the other heirs do not fully understand the plans your parents have for their estate -- especially with regard to asset distribution -- it could result in family arguments and other difficulties that are financially and emotionally costly.
  • You need to understand the assets you will inherit: Understanding your parents' financial plan and other assets is essential. No matter how financially savvy you think you are, knowing what you're going to receive and how to manage it, will improve your capacity to preserve your parents' wealth for the benefit of yourself and future generations to come.
  • You're a part of the family legacy: No matter how big your family's estate is, you will be the next torchbearer of the family legacy. As the next decision-maker -- whether you like it or not -- you will be responsible for the future health and well-being of your family's wealth. As such, it might be time for you to start taking part in the family decision-making process now.

Remember these 3 essential estate planning elements

Whether you're young or old, whether you're married or single and whether you have children or not, you need to have an estate plan if you're self-supportive adult. Failing to complete an estate plan means a lot of difficulties and unnecessary costs, delays and disagreements could be in store for your loved ones.

Just having an estate plan, however, isn't enough. Your estate plan needs to be complete and include all the essential elements, including the following three components:

What if my loved one left only an oral will?

You might think that a will has to be a paper document that has your signature and the signature of witnesses certified by an attorney or notary public. However, there is also something that's known as an "oral will." An oral will is communicated by mouth before witnesses. It's often communicated while the individual is on his or her deathbed.

Contrary to what you might think, an oral will is legal. However, because it's oral in nature, it can be fraught with the possibility of errors, miscommunications and mistakes in interpretation.

Common reasons for a will contest

Tennessee heirs will not always be satisfied with the mandates of a deceased relative's last will and testament. In some cases, heirs will suspect that foul play was involved, and the will does not reflect the decedent's true wishes. This could inspire them to contest the will.

Here are three of the most common bases for will contestation in this regard:

Why you should talk with heirs about your estate plan

It's not easy to talk to your family about your death. As a result, you might never get around to explaining your estate planning goals to your heirs. This can lead to a lot of confusion and problems after you're gone.

If your survivors don't know what you want to happen to your estate, they'll have to rely on your will and other estate planning documentation. But this can lead to misinterpretations, and your family members might administer your estate in a different way than you'd hoped.

When you need legal help, we are here for you.

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