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.
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.
It's amazing -- considering the numerous advantages of creating a last will and testament -- how many Tennessee residents have yet to finalize their estate plans with a will. The general advice regarding the timing of will creation is that you should have finished it yesterday.
You spent your entire life working hard and managing your income responsibly to amass a sizeable estate. You don't want your heirs to mismanage these assets -- or spend them frivolously -- especially when you spent so much effort to accrue them. The problem is that it's not enough to simply leave a note in your will that says, "Don't spend it all in one place."
If your loved one recently died, and you feel that the will on file was not an accurate reflection of his or her wishes, you might want to investigate whether the document is legally valid. There are a number of circumstances in which a will can be challenged. If you're planning to challenge or defend a will, or if you're currently drafting a new will, you might want to familiarize yourself with the circumstances under which a will may be contested in court.
Tennessee residents who are drafting their will need to choose a person to serve as the executor of their estates after they die. In most cases, people will select a trusted family member to fulfill the role of executor, but not everyone will be able to trust a family member with this role. How should you go about making sure that you're picking the right person to be the executor of your estate?
Whenever you draft your will without the help of an attorney, you run the risk of problems later on down the road. In the worst cases, the will gets challenged after you die by a disgruntled family member, and it gets completely nullified. This is an outcome you definitely want to avoid.
Many people keep things simple when choosing an executor for their estate: They just go with a family member. In a lot of cases, it's actually ideal to use your spouse. After all, your spouse is the one who will see the most dramatic financial changes after you pass away, and he or she has the most invested in the estate with you. Giving the power to determine how assets are divided to anyone else may even offend your spouse.
As estate planning and probate attorneys, we know how hard it is to lose someone you love. Most of us experience overwhelming feelings of grief and loss that can last a long time. We also realize that an unsatisfactory or disappointing final will can add to the stress people feel after a family death.
For Tennessee residents alive today, there has never been more access to information. It is now possible to go online and gain an overwhelming volume of information on virtually every topic. This is an exciting and exhilarating time, but it is also important to keep in mind that the internet cannot replace the skills and training of a legal professional. When it comes to creating one's will, old-fashioned face-to-face communication can yield a better result than online resources.