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One of the most forgotten aspects of estate planning is communication. It is crucial that you should communicate to your family and loved ones when developing your estate plan. However, you may be wondering, “What exactly am I supposed to tell someone about my estate plan?” The following provides a few things that you should communicate to those you have included in your estate plan. If you have any estate planning questions, be sure to contact the Tennessee estate planning attorneys at The Higgins Firm.

Inform the Designated Executor

One of the most basic pieces of any estate plan is a last will and testament, otherwise known as a will. And within almost any will, an executor will be designated to handle the affairs of your estate upon your passing. This designation is never made very lightly. Being appointed executor comes with a great deal of responsibility. An executor handles much of the financial affairs of a person’s estate. The executor pays off any debts of the estate and then distributes any of the remaining assets to any beneficiaries. Because of the responsibilities that come along with being an executor, it is very important that you should let the designated executor know that you have nominated that person to serve in such a role. Doing so gives the person a heads up about the potential of serving as an executor.

More and more of our lives are spent connected to the internet. Whether we are listening to music on iTunes, browsing social media like Facebook, or even paying our bills online, so much of what we do these days is done online.  Files, photos, music, and other things are no longer physically stored in a person’s home. Often these items are stored either on a website or “in the cloud.” We are truly living in a digital world. The repercussions of such can be felt in areas that you would not normally think about.

So exactly what happens when a person with digital assets is incapacitated or passes away? It is not as easy as boxing up and distributing someone’s things. It becomes complicated with online security protocol and trying to determine where certain items may be located. For those very reasons, there are a number of steps that you should take to better manage your digital assets.

Inventory your digital assets– Make a comprehensive list of all of your online accounts that may include your email, financial accounts, social media, online business accounts. Be sure to include your username, password, and any other required answers to security questions. Also, you should include information for your digital devices like a smart phone, tablet, or computer.

As 2013 comes to a close, many people will be looking beyond into 2014 for a fresh start. Many of those may be looking to accomplish bigger and better things. As a result many people will look to set New Year’s resolutions or goals to accomplish during 2014. So many resolutions require a large amount of planning and effort.  Some popular New Year’s resolutions typically include getting into shape, eating better, or being more frugal.  However, one of the more important resolutions that you can make is developing your estate plan. The good news is that developing an estate plan does not require a great deal of time or expense. Creating your estate plan can end up being one of your easier resolutions while also being one of the more important decisions that you can make.

You may be wondering what exactly is involved in developing an estate plan. An estate plane can involve a number of different aspects to make sure that your wishes are carried out if you were ever unable to make those decisions. One of the most important pieces of an estate plan is a last will and testament. A will in its most basic form designates where you want your assets to go upon your death. However, a will can include much more than the distribution of your assets. A will can allow you to specify a guardian for any minor children, set forth specific gifts to certain individuals, or even designate your wishes regarding your remains.

Another important piece of estate planning is a health care directive. A health care directive is a legal document that sets forth your wishes for your care in the event that you are unable to make a decision for yourself. There are number of different documents that can be considered a health care directive including a living will, a power of attorney, or an appointment of a health care agent. While each of these documents serves a different purpose, they each allocate the decision making authority regarding your health care treatment to another person if you are incapacitated.

I recently appeared on WSMV’s Better Nashville to talk about the importance of having certain estate planning documents including a will, power of attorney, and living will.  You can watch the segment below. If you have questions regarding any of these important legal documents, be sure to contact the Nashville wills attorneys at The Higgins Firm. We would be happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding these estate planning documents.

You have probably heard about the importance of having an estate plan set up for you and your family. An estate plan consists of a number of legal documents to ensure that your affairs and assets are handled if you are ever unable to do so. One of the most important documents of an estate plan is a will.  In its most basic form, a will instructs the probate court how to distribute your assets or possessions that have not already been predetermined by an ownership designation or beneficiary.

It is important to understand that there are a couple of limitations that a will may have in attempting to distribute assets according to your wishes. Both beneficiary designations and joint ownership of assets will supersede any instructions left in a will. These designations can affect where certain assets go upon a person’s passing.

When a beneficiary is listed on an account, whether that may be life insurance proceeds, annuities, retirement plans, etc., those specific assets in the account will be distributed to the named beneficiary of the account rather than anyone listed in the will. For example, if you have listed your daughter as the beneficiary of your life insurance proceeds and listed your spouse as the sole beneficiary of your will, any life insurance proceeds would be distributed to your daughter because she was listed as the beneficiary.  You should understand that although you may have listed someone as a beneficiary of your will, that individual may not recover everything if there are designated beneficiaries on accounts.

This time of year is a chance for families to enjoy one another’s company and simply be thankful for one another. It is a time for food, fun, family, and maybe even a little football.

Whether you are planning on having a large family gathering or smaller get-together with friends, this is a great opportunity to talk with your loved ones about your potential estate planning. Talk with your loved ones about what would work best for you and your family. A conversation can be a great way to start thinking about your family’s estate planning.

Whether you need a will, a power of attorney, or a living will, a conversation with your loved ones can help you recognize what legal documents may need to help provide for your family in the event that you are no longer able to do so. Following your conversation, you can begin to think about addressing specific cares or concerns that your family may have. You can then take these concerns to your estate planning attorney to begin the process of developing or amending your estate plan.

The sons of a late North Carolina real estate developer are suing their father’s company in an attempt to recover nearly $200 million in assets that he was trying to redirect shortly before his death. Henry Faison had tried updating his will to leave a large portion of his estate to a charitable trust that was named after his dog as opposed to his real estate firm. However, Faison was unable to officially sign the legal document before suddenly passing away. Subsequently, evidence in the form of emails and memos has surfaced showing his intention to leave this large portion to a charitable trust rather than the company.

The main issue is obviously that the will was not signed by Faison or witnessed by two witnesses, two requirements to make a valid will. Due to the unusual nature of the case, the suit is largely in uncharted legal waters. There are not any cases that have handled this type of issue or had this type of magnitude.

The lawsuit alleges that both Faison and company officials had agreed to the change of his estate plan prior to his sudden death because the company would be receiving life insurance and a number of other benefits under such agreement. The sons are asserting that the court should make the company uphold its end of the deal.

Only old, rich people should worry about estate planning. Estate planning is so simple that you can do it yourself. Estate planning is intimidating. There are a number of misconceptions out there about estate planning. While you may have had these thoughts cross your mind in regard to estate planning, it is important to learn the facts about what estate planning is and why you should not wait.

In its most basic form, estate planning is a set of legal documents that instructs others regarding your care and assets if you are not able to speak for yourself. These legal documents may include a will, a living will, appointment of a health care agent, power of attorney, and others. Each of these documents serves a different purpose but they all direct or empower another person to make decisions on your behalf regarding your assets, your care, or even the care of your minor children. In other words, they say who is in charge and this is what I want to happen. While this process may seem scary, estate planning can be quite empowering.

Many people may hear the phrase “estate plan” and automatically think that this only applies to those with money. However, “estate” is just a legal term for anything that you own. Whether you are single, married, divorced, remarried, have siblings, have kids, or anything else you can still benefit from an estate plan. Developing an estate plan can ensure that you are prepared for anything that may come about.

While many people think estate planning only relates to those who are well established in life, estate planning should begin much sooner than most people realize. Estate planning may conjure up images of wills and 401Ks, but the process should be essential to everyone upon reaching the age of majority, typically 18 years old.

Upon reaching the age of 18, most children in some form or fashion begin to assert their independence from their parents whether it is going to college, moving out of the house, or finding a new job. The law acts similarly because in the eyes of the law 18 year olds are adults no matter if they live at home or if they are away at college. This raises a number of implications because parents of these young adults are no longer entitled to make certain medical or legal decisions that they could have made while the child was a minor. If a college age child loses the ability to make or even communicate decisions, doctors and nurses may refuse to release information to you without the proper legal documents. Upon reaching the age of 18, the law recognizes an individual’s right to privacy and to govern their own lives.

Obviously, it is a scary thought to many parents that they may not be able to help their own child in a time of his or her greatest need. However, there are a number of estate planning documents that can enable a parent to make these decisions for their child. Although most 18 year olds likely do not need a will, all should have an Appointment of Health Care Agent or a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Each of these documents allocates authority to another to make health care decisions in the event that an individual is incapacitated and unable to make decisions. While an Appointment of a Health Care agent appoints another to make decisions in the event of incapacitation, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care lists the individual’s preference for treatment and appoints another individual to make those decisions accordingly in the event of incapacitation.

We all have heard about the importance of creating an estate plan for the benefit of our loved ones. In creating an estate plan, many people believe that their will is the final say on who gets what accounts after they die. While a will often is the final determination of who receives which assets, simple titling errors can create big headaches for all of those involved. The beneficiaries named on certain assets make the actual determination of where an asset may go even if a will states otherwise.

An estate plan can be frustrated by the way that a person titles individuals as beneficiaries of assets like bank or brokerage accounts. For instance, a mother may wish to have her estate divided equally among her three children upon her passing. However, if the mother names only one child as beneficiary of a savings account, only that child will receive the contents of that account because they were listed as the sole beneficiary. Obviously, that child is free to disperse the contents of the account equally to the other two children. However, the recipient of the asset is not under any legal obligation to do so. This situation can often lead to family problems.

Many people do not understand the implications and importance of titling on their accounts. When reviewing your estate plan, it is important to review who you have listed as a beneficiary on your accounts. Make sure that your wishes are expressed accordingly. In addition, it is also important to update your estate plan following any major life changes. If something has happened to a named beneficiary, be sure to update those accounts so that your wishes are met.

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