Wills Lawyers in Clarksville, TN, Helping Clients Make Legal Preparations For the Future
One of the most important actions individuals can take to protect their families after they pass away is to create a will detailing their final wishes. Many people mistakenly believe that their immediate family will automatically inherit their real property and other financial assets if they die without a will.
Sadly, however, this is not always the case. In some instances, families are left with expensive legal bills as they fight to obtain the resources they need after their loved one passes away. Legal situations could become even more complex if the decedent remarried but had children from a prior marriage. The current spouse and children may feel they are entitled to a share of the assets left behind, setting in motion an expensive legal battle.
However, legal disputes can often be prevented by drafting a will and making your final wishes known to your family and other beneficiaries. If you want more information about how a will can protect your family and ensure your final wishes are fulfilled, contact Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC. A qualified legal team member will gladly meet with you to discuss your needs and explain how we can assist you.
What Happens When a Person Dies and Does Not Leave a Will?
Under Tennessee law, if a decedent dies without leaving a will, they are said to have died “intestate.” Tennessee intestacy laws dictate how the decedent’s estate should be distributed upon their death.
State intestacy laws are based on the strength of family relationships. For example, if the decedent had a spouse but no children, the surviving spouse would receive the entire estate. However, if the decedent had a spouse and children, the spouse would receive one-third of the estate or child’s share, whichever is greater. If the decedent leaves a surviving spouse and only one child, the two parties would split the estate equally.
However, family dynamics can be complicated, and not every case would benefit from intestacy distribution laws. Additionally, dying without a will can cause a family to have to wait an even more significant amount of time to obtain the financial resources they may need to survive after the decedent’s death.
For this reason, it is in your best interest to ensure that you have created a will that details how you wish to distribute your estate. Contact our law offices to schedule an appointment to learn more about how dying without a will could negatively impact your family.
Do All Wills Have to Go Through Probate in Tennessee?
Many individuals believe that all wills must go through probate under Tennessee law. Probate is the legal process used to validate the decedent’s will, appoint an executor if one has not been previously named, and direct the distribution of assets as outlined.
However, there are many situations where estates may be exempt from state probate laws. Some of the most common reasons an estate may be exempt from probate include:
- Joint tenancy: If the decedent dies and leaves behind property jointly owned by another person, the property will automatically transfer without probate. Some common examples include life insurance policies and retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, jointly held bank accounts and real estate holdings, and property held in a trust.
- Small estates: Under the Tennessee Small Estates Act, estates valued at under $50,000 with no real property can avoid the probate process. However, other legal procedures must be followed, including filing an affidavit. The affidavit will give details such as whether or not the decedent left a will, property, unpaid debts, and the names of heirs and beneficiaries. The individual who files the sworn statement with the court is also responsible for paying debts and distributing assets per the terms of the will.
Understanding probate laws can be overly complex and challenging to try and figure out on your own. For this reason, it is always best to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can explain how Tennessee’s probate laws work and how they relate to your situation.
What Legal Grounds Can Cause a Will to Be Invalidated?
Tennessee recognizes several legal grounds that may cause a will to be invalidated. If a party wishes to contest a will, they must state specific legal grounds as to why they feel there is reason to believe the document is not valid. However, the party who chooses to contest a will has the burden of proof to prove their allegations.
Some of the legal grounds that can be used to challenge a will in Tennessee include:
- The testator, who wrote the will, lacked sufficient mental capacity to create the will.
- Claims the testator’s actions were influenced by mental illness, such as insane delusion, where the individual fully believes something to be accurate but in reality, only exists in their mind.
- Undue influence, fraud, or duress manipulated the testator’s decisions when making the will.
- Ambiguous provisions exist within the will, such as when there are conflicting statements or are susceptible to more than one meaning.
- The will was revoked, or a new will exists.
- The will does not comply with the state’s legal requirements, such as not having the correct number of witnesses or one of the witnesses is also listed as a beneficiary.
Because several grounds could be used to contest a will, individuals interested in creating one that can hold up to legal scrutiny should always consult an experienced attorney. A highly trained attorney like those of Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC, can review your situation and draft a solid legal document that clearly expresses your final wishes and how your assets should be distributed.
Why Should I Choose Your Law Firm to Help Me Create a Will?
When you decide to write a will, you are probably thinking about how you can make life easier for your family and other beneficiaries that you wish to inherit your property. For this reason. You want a law firm dedicated to helping its clients and putting their needs first.
Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC of Clarksville, TN, takes pride in the high level of professional service we offer our clients. We continuously work to maintain strong attorney-client relationships with those who trust us to help them provide for their families after they are gone.
When you choose our law firm, a qualified legal team member will sit down with you to discuss your future goals and how you would like to provide for your family and beneficiaries after you pass away. Our legal team recognizes that it may be emotionally challenging to think about your family’s life after you are gone. Nevertheless, planning for the future is one way to ensure they have the financial resources they need.
If you are interested in writing a will or have questions, contact Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC of Clarksville, at 931-272-3746 to schedule a free initial consultation.