Death is a certainty but it is doubtful that any of us really want to think too much about our own. There are times though, even when fit and healthy, that you should think about what happens next. You see, your death matters, particularly if you would like to see that those to who you want to leave your possessions, don’t end up in a struggle.
As Benjamin Franklin famously said, the “only sure things in life are death and taxes.” Unfortunately, death isn’t the end of your tax issues as the government will hound you to the grave and beyond, attempting to leverage taxes on your estate long after you have gone. This is why proper estate planning, particularly in Tennessee, is essential to protect what you want to leave to your loved ones.
What is Estate Planning?
Essentially estate planning is a way of constructing your financial affairs in such a way as to minimize or eradicate any inheritance tax liability on your death.
The most efficient way to do this is to use a lawyer, such as GSRM Law, who concentrates in this area, to design and handle your estate planning requirements as choosing the wrong law firm could lead to many problems faced by the beneficiaries when they look to process your estate.
Using the Right Lawyer to Handle Your Estate Planning
The question is how to find an estate lawyer in Tennessee that can adequately handle your affairs? It is not always as straightforward as you might imagine. If you want to ‘tax proof’ your estate, you need to do your homework and get a lawyer who specializes in this form of law and tax planning.
The Lawyer who handled your real estate transactions, your divorce if you had one, or even your drunk under the influence (DUI) if you have ever been unfortunate to be in that situation, just will not do. Estate planning is one of the most complex areas of law and requires a real specialist, or your loved ones may find out after your passing that they have unexpected tax liabilities.
How to Go About Finding a Good Lawyer
Word of mouth is always a good barometer for choosing a good estate planning lawyer. If you know someone or various friends who have had good outcomes with a particular attorney or firm, then that is always a good place to start.
Of course, if you have recently moved State, then you may want to recalibrate your existing estate planning with a more local attorney. This can be problematic if your knowledge of local law firms is limited. If you don’t have friends, colleagues, or family with experience of estate planning you are going to need outside help.
In these circumstances contacting the state bar might be the best first step as they are likely to be able to point you in the best direction of lawyers specializing in estate planning.
What is the Lawyer Likely to Suggest When Structuring Your Estate?
Everybody’s worth is different, and as such, the planning should be shaped to your needs and potential liabilities.Having said that, there are certain tools that the lawyer will likely want to deploy that are fairly common across many estates as ways to reduce the post-death liabilities your family will face.
The main tools used would be properly structured will, proper attribution of IRAs and 401(k)s, life insurance policies, and trusts are ones you are most likely to come across. Of these, trusts can be the most powerful, especially where estates have significant value.
What Is the Purpose of A Trust?
A trust is a legal entity in which the grantor can allow other people, known as trustees, to control whatever assets they choose to include for the benefit of those you want to leave your money, property, or other assets.
There are various types of trusts that can be employed, and it is a highly complex legal field. The main trust types you will encounter are living trusts and revocable or irrevocable trusts. For estate planning, living trusts play a vital role.
Because Tennessee state law doesn’t align with the Uniform Probate Code, it often results in a long probate length. In these instances even for moderate estates worth $50,000 or more, setting up a living trust is likely to be beneficial. This is because a living trust still allows you to have some control over your assets while alive.
The living trust enables the grantor to arrange what assets will and will not be included in the trust and then moves the title of those that are, into the trust. The grantor then lays down how the trust will distribute these assets, when they are dead, to the beneficiaries in the way he wants.
Sometimes a living trust can completely replace a will however, it can be a very complex setup, but if done correctly, it can reduce or eliminate the probate process.
Estate planning should never be left to chance, particularly in a State such as Tennessee. Even moderately sized estates valued at as little as $50,000 can benefit considerably from proper estate planning and the use of trusts in order to bypass the probate period and allow the loved ones to benefit immediately after death.
You are likely going to need help. Always pick a practice that specializes in estate law as it is going to greatly help ensure everything you want will pass from you to the next generation without a hiccup.