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Planning for All Ages and Stages

Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Estate Planning is simply a proactive way to protect yourself, your family, and your assets. Please do not be put off by the word "estate." That word makes many people believe they must be ultra-wealthy or near death to need an estate plan. Not so! 

Who needs to plan? We all do so we can plan for our own well-being, for our loved ones, and for others for whom we seek to make a difference in their lives. Our law firm assists you with estate planning only after getting to know you, your financial situation (however simple or complicated that may be) and those who are important to you. Our firm engages in this process with you to determine the strategies that work best for you and yours. The strategies are then outlined in legal documents that are professionally prepared and tailored to your situation and objectives at your particular stage in life. Whatever the size of your estate or the type of plan you choose, a properly prepared Estate Plan is desirable; otherwise, Tennessee has a ready-made plan for you that likely does not meet your needs and objectives.

A basic Estate Plan generally includes the following:

•Last Will and Testament (“Will”) or Revocable Living Trust

•Durable General Financial Power of Attorney

•Durable Health Care Power of Attorney

•Living Will or Advance Care Plan

The Last Will and Testament identifies the person you have chosen to administer your Estate, called the Personal Representative (or Executor). Your Executor ensures that your debts and last expenses are paid after you pass away and carries out the instructions in your Will as to who receives the gifts of your various assets and in what manner, such as by outright gift or in trust. Your Will can also name the guardian for any of your minor children.

While the Executor administers your Estate in accordance with the terms of your Will, the assets left to your loved ones through a Will are transferred to them through a court process called probate administration. The Court controls this process until the estate has been settled and distributed. Without an Estate Plan, your assets will be distributed to those individuals and in those amounts as provided under state law. Moreover, the Court may select the person to administer your estate and be the guardian for your minor children.  

You may choose to make the Revocable Living Trust part of your Estate Plan. The Revocable Living Trust is a planning tool to manage your property during your lifetime under the control of a Trustee (typically you, initially) and to transfer your property at your death. Effective use of a Revocable Living Trust can avoid conservatorship proceedings in the event you become incapacitated, avoid probate costs in your state of residence as well as in other states where you own real estate, speed the transfer of your property at your death and ensure privacy.

An Estate Plan that includes Durable Powers of Attorney enables you to provide guidelines for your financial and health care decisions in the event you become incapacitated. Putting a Durable General Financial Power of Attorney in place allows you to select the person you wish to be in control of your financial affairs if needed. A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will provide your medical and end-of-life instructions to your loved ones and your physician. This portion of your Estate Plan spares your loved ones the undue expense, delay and frustration associated with trying to manage your financial and medical needs without the legal authority of a power of attorney.

It is wise to review your Estate Plan periodically because of changes in your personal life and changes in the law. For example, have you moved to Tennessee from another state? Do you now live in Tennessee but own property in another? Have you had children or grandchildren since you established your Estate Plan? Have you remarried? Is it time to put someone else in charge of your financial and medical affairs under your Powers of Attorney? Moreover, there have been many changes in the law affecting estates and plans in the last 10+ years. Take a look at your Estate Plan and review Is It Time To Do or Update Your Estate Planning? Are you due for an update? The Law Office of Virginia W. Griffee can help you decide.

We serve all of West Tennessee, including but not limited to Shelby County, Fayette County, Tipton County, McNairy County, and Madison County, as well as the cities of Memphis, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Cordova, Millington, Bolivar, Dyersburg and Jackson, TN.

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