Understanding Trusts, Wills, & Estate Planning

A 2021 Gallup Poll Shows That Less Than Half of U.S. Adults, 46%, have a will that describes how their money and estate gets managed following their death.

As you might expect, the poll showed that Americans aged 65 and older were most likely to have a will while adults in other age groups were far less likely to have a last will and testament. For example, only 20% of American adults under the age of 30 were likely to have a will.

The numbers also reveal that upper-income Americans are most likely to have an estate plan which includes a will.

A last will and testament are not just for older adults or the wealthy. A will is useful for anyone who wants to provide direction about how their estate gets managed following their death. While people may believe having a will is important, most people procrastinate when it comes to developing an estate plan. They simply fail to plan for the unexpected.

It is important to understand what happens to your money and estate if you die without a will. The laws in each state are different and you should take time to understand what the laws are in your state.

In the state of Tennessee if a person dies without out a will, he or she dies intestate. This means that the state will distribute your probate estate according to the Tennessee intestacy laws.

Tennessee intestacy laws divide a decedent’s estate based on property ownership, as follows:

  • Exclusive Property – property exclusively owned by the decedent is the only property controlled by intestate succession laws.
  • Joint Property – if a spouse, partner, or someone else jointly owns property with the decedent, then the property passes to the joint property owners with survivorship rights. Intestate succession laws do not include joint property.
  • Trust Property – Intestate succession laws do not include property placed in a trust with a named beneficiary

 Property considered joint property or trust property is exempt from the probate process and pass directly to the joint owner or the trust beneficiary.

If you die without a will in the State of Tennessee your money and estate will gets distributed to your spouse, heirs, or relatives according to the laws of the state. The same is true in most states, if you die without a will then the laws of state will direct how your estate gets distributed through probate.

Probate is a court-supervised legal process that gives someone – usually the surviving spouse or other close family member legal authority to gather the deceased person’s assets, pay debts, and taxes, and eventually transfer assets to the people who inherit them. The probate process can be a lengthy process taking six months to a year to complete.

If you die without a will, you leave the handing of your estate to a local court and your state’s laws which can be a burden to your family.

A will is an important part of a successful estate plan outlines how your wishes for your estate following your death. Having an up-to-date last will and testament will save your family time, money, and stress.

4Sight Legal Services can help you develop a will that protects your family and assets while clearly outlining your wishes following your death. We can help you explore options that are best suited to your situation.

We can help you review your current will and provide advice to help keep your will up to date with current estate laws. Our estate planning attorney can provide information about trusts and help develop a custom estate plan tailored to your wishes.

Contact 4Sight Legal Services today to get the estate planning advice and legal services you need to protect your estate. Call (423) 305-1704 or visit us online to schedule an appointment.

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Individual and family estate planning involves creating a comprehensive strategy to manage and distribute assets upon death or incapacity.

This process ensures the desired transfer of wealth and property while minimizing taxes and legal complications. It typically includes establishing trusts, drafting wills, designating beneficiaries for financial accounts and insurance policies, and considering advanced directives for healthcare decisions.

In addition to these services, we offer a comprehensive range of estate planning services to both business and non-business owners, including preparing Wills, Revocable Living Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Deeds.

Learn more about our Business Law and Estate Planning services by scheduling a consultation today