Tennessee Wills, Trusts, and Probate
When thinking about your future and your family's future, a thought that doesn't often cross our mind is estate planning. Despite this oversight, planning for the distribution of your assets is of great importance to your well-being and your family's well-being, regardless of your age or amount of assets. Finding the right estate planning mechanism, whether it is a will or a trust, is a personal matter that should be given much thought and consideration. Additionally, once you decide the estate planning mechanism you would like to create, it is of great importance that you comply with Tennessee law. As such, you should consult a Tennessee estate planning attorney when creating your chosen estate planning mechanism.
Tennessee law allows two ways to create a valid will. Each of these methods has certain requirements in order to create a legally valid will. These requirements include:
Changing a Will in Tennessee
Wills in Tennessee can be changed by either:
The first option allows you to create a new will that contains provisions either expressly or impliedly. The second option allows you to create a document that expressly revokes the original will. This "document of revocation" must meet all of the requirements of a traditional will. The third option requires the physical destruction of the will by burning, tearing, or otherwise obliterating. The fourth option, divorce or annulment of marriage, results in the revocation of provisions in the original will that benefit the former spouse
If you are considering changing your will, discuss these changes with a Tennessee will attorney.
A Tennessee trust is another vehicle for individuals to distribute their assets after death. Examples of trusts recognized under Tennessee law include express trusts, charitable trusts, and noncharitable trusts.
A trustee must exercise his duties in good faith and according to the terms of the trust. Additionally, the trustee must exercise a duty of loyalty by acting only in the best interest of the trust's beneficiaries. Creating a trust can be a very arduous process and as such, a Tennessee trust attorney should be consulted when going about creating a trust.
At death, a testator's estate goes through the probate process. If a will is left by the testator, a court will distribute the property according to the testator's wishes in the will. Before doing so, however, the court must find that the will have been duly proved to be the testator's will. If no will is left, the court appoints an executor to distribute the property according to Tennessee's intestate succession law.
In Tennessee, the following people may hold interests by intestate succession (non-exclusive):
If none of the above people are available to inherit, then the State of Tennessee will take control of the asset. The importance of the probate process warrants the consultation of a Tennessee probate attorney when planning for the distribution of your assets upon death.