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We all want to protect one property, assets and loved ones after we pass away so that they can still have a bright future. Typically, a person trying to protect their assets and their loved ones will have a will drafted for them. However, there are many more options these days that a person may choose instead of having a will. Since there are so many different choices and options, it is best to speak to one of our estate planning lawyers at the Higgins Firm. We will answer any questions you have, talk to you about your needs and situation and help you choose the plan that is best for you and your family.

There are several ways to transfer assets at the time of death without the probate of a will. Some of these ways include but are not limited to:

No one wants to think about leaving their loved ones behind when they pass away. However, making sure that you have a will that details all your wishes about how you want things handled after you are gone will help you make sure that your loved one are cared for even when you cannot be there. It will help protect the things and people you care about and help them to have the future that you want for them. Here are some important factors to consider when it comes to the writing of your will. If you have questions or concerns about your will and need help having one drafted, then you should speak to one of our estate planning lawyers with the Higgins Firm. We will help answer any questions you may have and help you create a plan that is right for you.

  • Having a will does not mean all your assets are covered:   Any assets where a beneficiary is designated such as IRA 401k plans and life insurance will go directly to the beneficiaries. Also, any assets that you have in joint tenancy with survivorship will go directly to the people who have the survivorship rights after you die. Any accounts that are pay on death or transfer to death will also go to any beneficiaries when you die. If you have a trust with any assets these will be handled without probate. It is important to review your beneficiaries when you make any changes to your will so that you make sure your assets are divided exactly how you want them to be.
  • It is important to make sure the executor of your will is someone you trust:  The executor should be someone you trust because they will be responsible for handling everything after you die as well as making sure the wishes in your will are honored in the way that you want them to be. They will be responsible for paying bills and taxes that deal with your estate. They also have to appear at legal proceedings and maintain any property until the estate is settled. It is best to appoint someone whom you not only trust but who also has business knowledge.

No one wants to think about leaving their loved ones behind when they pass away. However, making sure that you have a will that details all your wishes about how you want things handled after you are gone will help you make sure that your loved one are cared for even when you cannot be there. It will help protect the things and people you care about and help them to have the future that you want for them. Here are some important factors to consider when it comes to the writing of your will. If you have questions or concerns about your will and need help having one drafted, then you should speak to one of our estate planning lawyers with the Higgins Firm. We will help answer any questions you may have and help you create a plan that is right for you.

• Having a will does not mean all your assets are covered

Any assets where a beneficiary is designated such as IRA 401k plans and life insurance will go directly to the beneficiaries. Also, any assets that you have in joint tenancy with survivorship will go directly to the people who have the survivorship rights after you die. Any accounts that are pay on death or transfer to death will also go to any beneficiaries when you die. If you have a trust with any assets these will be handled without probate. It is important to review your beneficiaries when you make any changes to your will so that you make sure your assets are divided exactly how you want them to be.

Estate planning can be a difficult and confusing process. This process can be made even more complicated when you have a business or foundation that your family members may be involved in. This appears to be the case with Paul Newman’s family. The Newman’s Own company and foundation started in 1980 when actor Paul Newman and author A.E. Hotchner began making homemade salad dressing and giving it to neighbors as Christmas presents who came by as they were caroling. Newman’s Own made a profit of almost one million dollars two years later and donated most of it to charity. Then in 1993, Newman’s daughter Nell began Newman’s Own Organics, a division of the company. Newman’s Own now makes pasta sauce, popcorn, salsa, frozen pizza and other products, and the company has stated that it has given away more than $400 million to charities such as summer camps for seriously ill children.

Newman had his attorney draft a letter in 1999, that stated his intention to give his children the major voice in distributing funds for charity. He stated these intentions again in meetings in 2006 with family members, lawyers, and accountants and it was also on a 2007 video interview.

After Newman went into the hospital changes were made to his estate plan and on April 11, 2008 he rewrote his will and appointed two associates to controlling positions in the Newman’s Own Foundation on July 29, two months before his death. When his will was read, his family members learned that Newman’s daughters would not be on the board of the Newman’s Own Foundation and that millions of dollars for their personal foundations would go instead to Newman’s wife’s marital trust. Newman’s family now claims that Newman’s Own, and its foundation are being  mismanaged by the man who’s served as chief executive for several years. The dispute has to do with concerns about the changes Paul Newman made to his estate plan in his final years.

There has been a lot of news about the Sofia Vergara embryo case. However, beyond the public’s desire to look into the life a celebrity, the reason a case like this so important is because it may affect laws, policies and regulations about how to handle cases similar to this one in the future. It may also help to answer questions about legal obligations in these kinds of cases.

The Sofia Vergara embryo case raises questions and sparks debate about things such as what should a judge decide if a woman or a man has undergone subsequent treatment for cancer and is therefore left incapable of producing gametes that would make it possible to be a genetic parent in the future or what if something has emerged that would question whether a person would be a fit parent, such as committing a serious crime against a child.

In one case, a judge in a divorce case made the ruling that embryos are “community property” and that awarding the embryo to the wife was “just and right and a fair and equitable decision.” Later, that decision was overturned by the Court of Appeals for the First District because it was noted that the couple’s original contract was enforceable because it demonstrated “a voluntary unchanged mutual intention of the parties regarding disposition of the embryos upon divorce.” Another case with no previously written agreement, an earlier decision to award the frozen embryos to the wife was reversed by an appeals court on the grounds that the husband had a constitutional right not to be forced to father a child.

Many people may believe that they do not have to be worried about federal estate tax if they do not make a large amount of money, but if you have a substantial amount of life insurance, own a home or have a good retirement account or plan, there are some things you need to think about and consider when it comes to estate tax. If you have questions or concerns about how estate tax may affect you and your family, you should talk to a estate planning lawyer at the Higgins Firm. We will help you to determine the best plan for you and answer any concerns you may have.

So, you may be asking what exactly is included in estate tax? Federal estate tax includes assets such as proceeds from any life insurance you may have, any house or property you own including vacation and rental properties. It also includes retirement plan accounts, vehicles, furniture, any valuable collectibles you may have and any other property and items you own. Finally, if you have shares in a family business or corporation those are also included.

If you are single, any life insurance coverage you may have is subject to federal estate tax. If you are married, it is not that big of an issue because the life insurance benefits would go to the surviving spouse tax free because of a marital deduction. However, this only applies if your spouse is a citizen of the United States.

When someone you love passes away, you may inherit property, money, or other possession if that person names you in a will. If there is no will, then a court may decide who gets to have what and you may get little to no say. It is not only important to have a will though, it is also important that you follow all the rules and guidelines about making sure a will is valid in your state. This is why if you are wanting to have a will drafted, it is a good idea to talk to a estate planning lawyer with the Higgins Firm. We will answer any questions or concerns you may and help you to draft a will that protects your property and loved ones even if you no longer around.

In a recent case, the Court of Appeals found a Will was invalid after one of the decedent’s heirs filed a will contest alleging that the decedent’s will was not properly executed.  Specifically, the heir argued that because the will was not signed by witnesses according to the law the Will should be thrown out.   Tennessee Code Annotated Section 32-1-104 requires that the testator and at least two witnesses sign a will any non-holographic will.

The world tragically lost a Blue’s icon recently and it looks like the families troubles are continuing in probate court. The four daughters of the late musical icon BB King, Patty King, Karen Williams, Rita Washington and Barbara Winfree, have had their lawyer file new legal documents in probate court, indicating that there is another will by their father who in his 2007 will named his long-time business manager, LaVerne Toney, as the sole executor of the estate. Riletta Mitchell, another daughter was listed second, but she died in September of last year.

Apparently, BB King’s daughters have been at odds with LaVerne Toney and Myron Johnson, another personal aide for months. They claim that Toney misappropriated funds and mistreated BB King before his death, and also claim King had been poisoned. According to news sources, in the legal papers, the daughters only accuse Toney of being unqualified to be the executor of BB King’s estate.

BB King’s daughters also allege that Toney denied King the proper medical care he needed and also changed the locks on his home so that when the BB King died on May 14th, he had no family and friends with him. A lawyer representing Toney and the estate dismisses the claims and states that they are completely ludicrous’ and ‘unsubstantiated by any true facts’. These new accusations come before the daughters are scheduled to appear in court for a hearing regarding BB King’s will.

We all may not know how important estate planning really is, but many may be confused by the process, think it costs too much or just think we do not have to worry about it yet. Here are some tips so you can choose the best plan for whatever stage of life you are in. Once you understand what needs you may have, you should contact one of our experienced estate planning and probate lawyers with the Higgins Firm.

  • If you are younger than thirty

At this stage in life, you probably haven’t given much thought to estate planning. If you do not have many assets, you may be able to get away with not having a will yet, but if you are already making a substantial amount of money or have several assets, then you should think about having a will drafted. Accidents can still happen and this way you make sure that your family is taken care of and your property gets divided according to your wishes.

This is a difficult question to answer for many people. Often, it is because people do not know the difference between the two or what is involved in each. It is important to choose the one that is best for your needs so that your loved ones and family members will be protected and taken care of after you pass away. Here are some things we consider with our clients when helping them decide between a living trust or a last will. If you have any more questions about a living trust or a will, you should speak to one of our lawyers with the Higgins Firm. We will go through each option with you and help you with the planning of your estate.

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