Nearly every Tennessee family that I speak with about getting their estate legal affairs in order will almost always ask, “what else do you think I should know or should be asking?” Every time I am asked this question I explain three important estate planning lessons for every Tennessee families.
1. Get your plan in place early
There are certain things in life where procrastination always seems to get in the way. Family activities, vacations, work, the kids school activities, the kid’s baseball games, and any number of activities get in the way and stop most families from taking care of their estate legal affairs. I see it every day where a family intended to put their estate legal affairs in order, never got around to it, and then the family member who passed away ends up in probate and a long drawn out court process that costs the family tens of thousands of dollars. The morale of the story is to act today and put things in place now so your family is protected.
2. Make sure your plan is in writing and completed by an estate planning attorney
A very important lesson is make sure your estate legal affairs is completed by an estate planning attorney. In today’s economy, everyone is always trying to save a penny. However, estate planning is the one area where your goal should be get it done correctly, the first time, and not necessarily picking the least expensive way to accomplish your estate planning. I see it all the time where a family gets a form online, or writes down their wishes on a notebook piece of paper, and didn’t follow the instructions to make their plan valid under Tennessee law. The unfortunate result is the family ends up in a long and expensive court battle to correct the problems caused by the family’s failure to plan.
3. Make sure you review your estate plan
Estate planning tends to be one of those things in life where we complete it, put it away in the corner, and forget about it. However, estate planning needs to be periodically reviewed and updated such as after a law change or life circumstance change. When you fail to update your estate plan your wishes may not be followed after you pass away.
Bonus Lesson: You should make sure that you only do business with an estate planning law firm where estate planning is all they do and agree to perform all the necessary legal work, including the various updates to your estate plan for one reasonable flat fee. A common complaint of lawyers is that every time I call the lawyer or send an e-mail, I get a bill in the mail. Therefore, you should only do business with an estate planning law firm that agrees to perform all the necessary work for one reasonable flat fee and will not nickel and dime you every time you have a question.
If you have questions about estate planning in Tennessee and how you can set up your legal affairs so that you avoid all the unnecessary costs and government intrusion that comes with probate, 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 private lives.
I look forward to speaking with you at one of our upcoming live educational events!