We have all heard the phrase “getting your affairs in order.” However, what does that mean? For nearly every Tennessee family, it means establishing your Last Will and Testament. However, many families need more estate planning than just a Will to properly protect their assets and provide a smooth transition for their loved ones. We will cover these other important estate planning concepts in later blog articles.
In general terms, a Will states where you want your assets to go and who you want to be in change of distributing your assets after your death. If you die with a Will, Tennessee law refers to this as testate. However, if you die without a Will, this is referred to as intestate. This means that Tennessee law determines where your assets will go after your die. In addition, if you do not comply with the requirements of creating a valid Will, then when you die, your Will is not going to be valid, and therefore, Tennessee intestate law will determine where your assets go after you die.
In order to avoid Tennessee law from controlling where your assets go after you die, it is important that you follow these important steps:
- Your Last Will and Testament Must Be In Writing (Sorry! No Video Wills Like in the movie Brewster’s Millions)
- Your Will must be signed by you.
- You must sign your Will in the presence of two witnesses.
- You must be of sound mind and under no undue influence or duress. Meaning, you cannot be forced at gunpoint to sign your Will and you cannot be suffering from dementia or severe illness. You must sign and execute your Will voluntarily.
- You should make sure that your witnesses are not beneficiaries under the Will. However, just because your witnesses are beneficiaries under the Will, i.e., your spouse or adult child, doesn’t necessarily make it invalid under Tennessee law. However, its better to be safe then sorry. Therefore, you should do your best to make sure that your witnesses are not beneficiaries under the Will.