Our office speaks with many Tennessee families everyday regarding their estate planning goals and concerns. One of the most common concerns that our clients have is similar to the following:
“I Want The Government To Stay Out of My Family’s Private Lives After I’m Gone”
Most of us can relate to this statement. We work all of our lives, saving our money, providing for our family, and then after we pass away, our entire lives become public record through the probate court system. Everything that we own, everyone we owe money to, and everyone who is inheriting from us and how much they are inheriting becomes public record for the whole world to see.
However, there are simple steps that you can take in order to avoid the probate court system altogether and ensure that the government stays out of your private life after you have passed away.
- Speak With an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
The first good starting point is to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney and a law firm that focuses their entire practice on the estate planning and the estate settlement field will be able to speak with you, listen to your family situation, and determine the legal strategy and estate plan that will work best for your family.
- Establish a Revocable or Irrevocable Living Trust
One of the main complaints about estate planning is that unless you are super wealthy, you do not need a trust. However, this is simply not true. We are finding that many, many of our clients are utilizing trusts in order to control what they own, and prevent unnecessary government intrusion. If you die with a last will and testament or without a last will and testament, everything you own, everyone you owe money to, and who is inheriting your property will be subject to the public probate court system. The process will take anywhere from six months to two years or longer before the entire probate estate is settled and the assets distributed to the surviving family members.
However, when you have a trust (either revocable or irrevocable) and all of your assets have been properly retitled into the name of that trust, then upon your death all of your assets will be distributed in accordance with the customized provisions of that trust. In addition, the entire estate settlement process is private, there is no public probate court system that you are required to go through. Finally, and usually most importantly, the entire estate settlement process is completed within days to weeks as opposed to months to years.
- Make Sure Your Assets Are Properly Retitled Into the Name of Your Trust
The most important aspect of creating a trust is ensuring your assets have been retitled into the name of your trust. If you fail to retitle your assets into the name of your trust, then the trust is meaningless. Regardless of the fact that you have a trust, your assets that were not retitled into the trust will be administered through the public probate court system and all of that advanced planning will be for nothing. The lesson here is to make sure all of your assets are properly retitled into the name of your trust.
Avoiding the government from intruding into your family’s private lives after your death can be a very simple process, but it takes initiative, action, and advanced planning on your part. If you have questions on how to plan your estate so that the government stays out of your family’s private affairs after your death, then please contact our office for a complimentary visit so that we can discuss your estate planning needs and concerns in further detail.
We look forward to hearing from you!