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Nashville Estate Administration Law Blog

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.

Should a married couple set up a joint or separate will?

It's common that Tennessee residents do not begin thinking about estate planning until after they get married and start a family of their own. In the case of spouses, though, they will have the option of setting up a joint will or separate wills. This may cause you to wonder which route is better? Should you and your spouse combine your estate planning in a joint will, or should you keep your estates separated?

In most cases, estate planning lawyers will advise spouses to create separate wills. This is primarily because it's improbable that two spouses will die at the same time. It's also since you and your spouse probably have a lot of individual property that isn't a part of your marital estate. For this reason, separate wills are a more practical estate planning solution -- even if both of your spouse's wills end up looking nearly the same.

Pro tips for will creation: Advice you don't commonly hear

Estate planning lawyers give the same advice to their clients over and over again, and when you search for will planning advice on the internet, you find a lot of repetitive information. That's largely because this information is so important, but what about the less-than-commonly-heard advice? A recent article published on Oprah's website, written by Suze Orman, offers something unique in this regard.

Here are some of the pro estate planning tips that Suze Orman revealed:

What is continuous estate planning and why is it important?

Continuous estate planning refers to staying on top of your estate plan to ensure that it doesn't become obsolete. No one's life and no one's family is a static, unchanging entity. People die, people get married, children are born and people get divorced. All of these life changes could necessitate changes to your estate plan to ensure it reflects your current wishes.

Imagine you have been married for 15 years, and you've now decided to get a divorce. Your estate plan, which you drafted five years ago left all of your assets to your soon-to-be ex. If you don't update your current estate plan -- and the beneficiary designations on your insurance and investment accounts -- to remove your ex, your ex could receive the money and wealth you hope to leave to someone else.

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