Estate Planning Lawyers in Nashville TN, Greenville and Charleston SC
How We Can Help You Plan for the Future
New clients often say that they do not have an estate plan. Most people are surprised to learn that they actually do have a plan. In the absence of legal planning otherwise, their estate will be distributed after death according to Tennessee’s and South Carolina’s laws of intestacy. Of course, this may not be the plan clients would have chosen. A properly drafted estate plan will replace the terms of Tennessee’s and South Carolina’s estate plan with your own. By creating an estate plan, you are ensuring that the people you love receive what you want them to. Start the process and create your estate plan alongside an estate planning lawyer at Gordon Law Group.
Our Estate Planning Services
Only qualified attorneys can create estate plans, and it is important that you work with a firm you trust to get your affairs in order. The lawyers of Gordon Law Group can help you take a look at all your assets and decide what route is the best for you. We can help with the following, and more:
Your last will and testament is just one part of a comprehensive estate plan. If a person dies without a will they are said to have died “intestate” and state laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed. Some things you should know about wills:
- A will has no legal authority until after death. So, a will does not help manage a person’s affairs when they are incapacitated, whether by illness or injury.
- A will does not help an estate avoid probate. A will is the legal document submitted to the probate court, so it is basically an “admission ticket” to probate.
- A will is a good place to nominate the guardians (or back-up parents) of your minor children if they are orphaned. All parents of minor children should document their choice of guardians. If you leave this to chance, you could be setting up a family battle royal, and your children could end up with the wrong guardians.
Trusts come in many “flavors,” they can be simple or complex, and serve a variety of legal, personal, investment or tax planning purposes. At the most basic level, a trust is a legal entity with at least three parties involved: the trust-maker, the trustee (trust manager), and the trust beneficiary. Oftentimes, all three parties are represented by one person or a married couple. In the case of a revocable living trust, for example, a person may create a trust (the trust-maker) and name themselves the current trustees (trust managers) who manage the trust assets for their own benefit (trust beneficiary).
Depending on the situation, there may be many advantages to establishing a trust, including avoiding probate court. In most cases, assets owned in a revocable living trust will pass to the trust beneficiaries (or heirs) immediately upon the death of the trust-maker(s) with no probate required. Certain trusts also may result in tax advantages both for the trust-maker and the beneficiary. Or they may be used to protect property from creditors, or simply to provide for someone else to manage and invest property for the trust-maker(s) and the named beneficiaries. If well drafted, another advantage of trusts is their continuing effectiveness even if the trust-maker dies or becomes incapacitated. Reach out to our estate planning lawyers to find out if you and your family could benefit from establishing a trust.
A power of attorney is a legal document giving another person (the attorney-in-fact) the legal right (powers) to do certain things for you. What those powers are depends on the terms of the document. A power of attorney may be very broad or very limited and specific. All powers of attorney terminate upon the death of the maker, and may terminate when the maker (principal) becomes incapacitated (unable to make or communicate decisions). When the intent is to designate a back-up decision-maker in the event of incapacity, then a durable power of attorney should be used. Durable Powers of Attorney should be frequently updated because banks and other financial institutions may hesitate to honor a power of attorney that is more than a year old.
An advance directive is a document that specifies the type of medical and personal care you would want should you lose the ability to make and communicate your own decisions. Anyone over the age of 18 may execute an advance directive, and this document is legally binding in Tennessee and South Carolina. Your advance directive can specify who will make and communicate decisions for you, and it can set out the circumstances under which you would not like your life to be prolonged if, for example, you were in a coma with no reasonable chance of recovery.
A document that goes hand-in-hand with your advance directive is an authorization to your medical providers to allow specified individuals to access your medical information. Without this authorization, your doctor may refuse to communicate with your hand-picked decision maker.
Once completed, your estate plan should be reviewed and updated based on major life events including the birth, death, marriage, or divorce of anyone included in your plan. In addition, you should review your plan if there is a significant increase or decrease in your finances or if the laws related to your estate plan change. The Gordon Law Group offers a maintenance program that provides you regular access to us to make sure your estate plan stays current with any changes you or your loved ones may experience.
The estate planning lawyers at Gordon Law Group are experienced and well-equipped to handle everything from simple to complex estates. Our client-centered methodology ensures that we provide solutions that are customized to every client’s needs. Estate planning is highly individual to each person. Our goal is to achieve your particular wishes and make sure that they are carried out the way you want. Find more guidance in our article: Here’s Why You Need an Estate Plan