Having a will can make the difference between you having a right to decide how your assets will be distributed upon your death and the probate court handling the matter on your behalf. In addition to having a properly prepared will, it is also important to have advance care directives, or living wills in place to ensure your family knows your wishes for end of life care.
Tennessee probate: When you have a will
In Tennessee, when a decedent has a will in place, the court will review the estate for assets that must be handled through probate, the will is verified by the court and an executor is assigned. Notifications of the death are made publicly and beneficiaries and creditors are also notified. Once the proper notifications are complete, the executor is responsible for ensuring all assets are available to the estate. All of the bills and final tax obligations of the estate are paid and the assets are then distributed by the executor to the beneficiaries.
In most cases, it is imperative to designate a beneficiary for all property in your estate which can help avoid the probate process. Estates with real property or valued over $25,000 will have to go through the probate process unless the property contained in the will has a transfer on death (TOD) designation or the property is held in joint names.
Advance care directives: Living wills
The importance of planning for your health care needs as you age cannot be underestimated. In the event you are unable to handle your own health care needs, you need to have confidence the person who is dealing with those plans knows your wishes. If left untended, your health care decisions could be left up to strangers including a judge.
Having a health care directive ensures that your health is handled in the way you wish. Having the proper powers of attorney in place will also help ensure that your financial matters are being handled by someone you trust in the event you are unable to handle them on your own.
Regardless of your current health or the size of your estate, having a will and a living will in place can help ensure that your wishes are carried out. Having a health care directive will also inform your family and your physician of your wishes regarding end of life care.
If you are considering an estate plan, contact the Law Office of Jill Hudson for assistance. We will work with you to ensure your will and living will is set up properly to ensure your final wishes are carried out in accordance with your needs.