I was speaking with a couple who attended one of our live educational events recently. During our conversation we discussed many concerns including taxes and nursing home expenses. However, their main concern was keeping their assets and debts private when they pass away.
One of the many ways that I help Tennessee families set up their legal affairs is by arranging their legal affairs in such a way that it provides a smooth transition for their loved ones after they pass away with as little government intrusion as possible.
When I was speaking with this couple they mentioned that they are a very private family, and they had a very bad experience when this woman’s father passed away several years ago. The wife discussed with me that the probate process took almost a year before it was all completed, and to make matters worse, the attorney that they hired charged them $42,000 to settle her late father’s estate at the end of the day. She also told us that her father’s home and personal property was auctioned off and sold to pay a number of the debts he had accumulated over the years, including a $28,000 medical bill at the end of his life. She told us that after a year, all the expenses including the $42,000 in attorney fees, she inherited, along with her two brothers, only $2500.
During my discussions with this couple, I talked with both of them about how, every day, I help Tennessee families keep their assets and debts private, and limit, and most of the time, completely avoid many of the costs that reduced her late father’s estate.
I discussed when them an estate planning strategy that has become very popular over the years that is called a revocable living trust. This trust, I explained, is a legal document and a separate legal entity, and what it does is that it allows your family to completely avoid the probate court process when you pass away. What we would do would draft your estate planning legal program that included a revocable living trust, last will and testament, property power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and living will declaration. In addition, we would retitle your property into the name of this trust. I further explained that we would retitle the real estate you own out of your name and transfer into the name of the trust, and the transfer of this real estate would be filed in the local property records in Williamson County. I also explained to this couple that we would work with their financial advisor so that all their beneficiary designation forms were completed naming the trust as the new beneficiary of these accounts. I explained to this family that if all of your assets are titled in the name of this trust when you and your spouse pass away, then the $42,000 in attorney’s fees that you experienced with your late father’s estate would be completely avoided, as well as the nearly yearlong probate court process.
This couple was extremely excited and wanted to discuss this matter further on how to avoid probate, eliminate attorney’s fees and probate costs, and keep the entire estate settlement process private for their children after they pass away.