I speak with many, many Tennessee families every single day regarding estate planning, trusts, wills, power of attorneys, and general estate planning legal matters. In addition, I am asked many, many questions and I receive many, many comments from Tennessee families. However, the most common statement that I receive is something similar to the following:
I don’t need a Last Will and Testament and I also don’t need a Trust. All of my financial accounts have beneficiaries named, all of my stocks and bonds have beneficiaries and transfer on death designations completed, and I own my home jointly with my spouse. Also, I have less than $5.4 million in assets, so I’m not worried about estate taxes. I just don’t need to do any estate planning.
Among all the statements and questions that I hear from Tennessee families, the one above is by far the most common. However, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Avoiding estate tax is just one of the many estate planning concerns that families may have. In addition, simply naming a beneficiary on a financial account may not be all that you need to do to provide for your family. I see it every day, families do no estate planning because they don’t think they need it given how their assets are titled jointly and how they have designated their financial accounts. Then, when a family member dies, it wasn’t done exactly correct, and the family ends up in probate for the next 10 months to 2 years or longer.
However, probate isn’t the only concern. The following is a list of questions and concerns that could occur from the type of estate planning for a family in the situation described above:
- Do You Want Your Children’s Inheritance to be Subject to Divorce and Creditor Claims?
- Is It Important for You to Limit and Protect Your Assets from Loss in the Event of a Lawsuit During Your Lifetime?
- Do You Want Your Children to Receive Their Inheritance All at Once or Over a Period of Time?
- Do You Want to Provide Part of Your Estate to Your Grandchildren So That They May Have a Small Savings When It’s Time to go to College?
- Do You Have Any Pets? Who Is Going to Provide for Your Pets if You Should Pass Away?
- Do You Want To Limit Your Children’s Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax Liability When They Sell Assets That They Inherited From You?
- Do You Want to Protect Your Wealth From Having to Spend Your Assets on Your Future Nursing Home Costs and Expenses?
- How Would You Feel if Your Children Received None of Your Inheritance Because You Had to Spend All of Your Wealth During Your Final Years on Your Medical Costs?
- Is It Important To Protect Your Home From Tennessee’s Estate Recovery Rights After You and Your Spouse Pass Away?
These are just a few of the questions and concerns that can arise when you fail to put a proper plan in place to provide for the smooth transition of your assets to your loved ones when you are gone. Simply thinking that just because you have beneficiaries named on all of your accounts and the rest of your assets are owned jointly with a spouse, does not mean that you are not a candidate for estate planning. The above nine questions shows you why estate planning is imperative for every Tennessee family.
Failing to put a proper plan in place can lead to your children’s inheritance being seized in divorce or by a creditor, not being able to provide assets to your grandchildren, burdening your children with unnecessary income tax liability, not being able to protect your assets from unnecessary medical and nursing home costs and expenses, and not being able to protect your home from Tennessee’s estate recovery rights.
For these reasons, it is important, at the very least, to sit down with a Tennessee estate planning attorney so that you may discuss your family’s unique circumstances and a possible estate planning strategy for your family.
If you have questions about estate planning in Tennessee and how the correct legal strategy could help your family, then I encourage you to attend one of our live free educational events scheduled this month. At these events you will hear a lot of real life stories about families that paid thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses, families that were able to avoid unnecessary expenses, and families that enjoyed zero government intrusion into their families’ private lives.
I look forward to speaking with you at one of our upcoming live educational events!