Preparation is the main ingredient in the recipe for success in life. Whether it is packing for a vacation, planning a schedule, or even studying notes before a big presentation, preparation is critical in so many areas. Similarly, it is important to be prepared in estate planning. There are a number of issues that can arise with estate planning. It is critical to avoid some of the common pitfalls that many people may not even think about. Contact a Tennessee estate planning attorney with any questions that you have.
Get Your Estate Planning Documents in Line
One of the more obvious pitfalls to avoid is to actually have estate planning documents in line. Although you may have intentions of putting together an estate plan, it is important to begin now. It is always better to have an estate plan in place years early rather than being one day too late. It is also important to coordinate all of the legal documents including: wills; any asset ownership forms; trusts; and medical directives. This can keep things organized in order to eliminate any potential headaches for family members in the future.
Title Your Assets Properly
Assets may be owned in a number of different ways. Whether you have sole ownership of the asset, own it jointly with a right of survivorship, or own it in joint tenancy, it is important to keep your assets properly titled. The way an asset is titled can affect how it transfers upon death. In Tennessee, property held jointly will pass without having to go through the probate process, which can be an involved process. However, property held under sole ownership will have to go through the probate process. Also, titling assets properly helps to avoid any conflicts that may arise with intentions in a will.
Make Sure Proper Beneficiaries Are Listed
It is not uncommon for people to have accounts like a retirement plan or life insurance policy with beneficiary designations. These designations on an account often take precedence over those named in a will. This issue of precedence can often cause trouble if a beneficiary is not properly listed. If a person is married and lists his spouse as a beneficiary to an account, there can be problems upon a divorce and remarriage. It is important to update your accounts to list proper beneficiaries.
Keep Estate Planning Documents Safe But Accessible
Many people may keep estate planning documents in a fireproof safe, lockbox, or other container. It is important to keep these documents safe away from any potential damage. However, it is also important to let your loved ones know where these documents are. A personal representative should be able to access the documents in the event that something happens.
Leave Any Assets to Minors in a Trust
Complications can arise if a person inherits assets as a minor. A trust can enable a person to determine when a minor or young adult receives any assets. Some people feel uncomfortable leaving any large assets to an 18 year old via a will. A trust can designate a specific age when the person inherits the assets.
Avoid Possible Competency Disputes
Estate planning documents may be invalidated a number of ways without proper planning. However, a common issue is the competency of the individual executing the document. If there is any chance that a person’s competency may be challenged, you may consider conducting testing, interviews, or caregiver’s evaluations. This will ensure that the individual is indeed competent to execute the document.
If you need help with any estate planning documents, contact one of our Tennessee estate planning lawyers. Our team of experienced Tennessee wills attorneys would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.