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Trusted Springfield Wills And Trusts Lawyers Ready To Assist You

Planning for the end of your life can be an overwhelming process. So, too, can managing a loved one’s estate after their death. Whether their passing was a shock, or you knew far in advance, trying to manage their affairs while grieving their loss is never simple. But you don’t have to walk through it alone.

The attorneys at Batson Nolan PLC have helped countless individuals plan for the future. We have also helped those struggling through loss navigate the complexities of their loved one’s affairs and honor their loved one’s wishes after they pass on. Our Springfield wills and trusts lawyers are here to help take such sensitive and challenging matters off your plate through our extensive knowledge of wills and trusts. Contact us today!

Contents hide 1. Why Do I Need a Will? 2. What Happens When Someone Dies with a Will? 3. Who Can Contest a Will? 4. How Much Time Do I Have to Contest a Will? 5. In What Circumstances Can I Contest a Will? 6. What Is a Trust? 7. What Types of Trusts Are There? 8. What Else Should I Do to Prepare? 9. Batson & Nolan PLC Can Help

Why Do I Need a Will?

Wills allow you to leave instructions for your loved ones after your death. You can leave your family farm to the child who wants to succeed you or protect your assets from a parent who abandoned you. If you want, you can leave property to friends or establish a program to benefit a cause you cared about long after you’re gone.

If you die without a valid will, Tennessee attempts to approximate how you may have wanted your assets to be distributed through intestacy laws. Those laws dictate a priority system for your relatives to receive your assets, first favoring your spouse and children, if you have them, then your grandchildren, parents, siblings, grandparents, and descendants of your grandparents. If you have no living relatives close enough on the family tree, your estate passes to the state.

This structure may result in your property going to the person you would have left it to anyway. However, at best, you lose the options a will can provide, and at worst, someone you would have never wanted to take your property lays claim to all of it.

The easiest way to avoid this outcome is to create a comprehensive estate plan with the help of experienced trusts and wills attorneys like those on our team at Batson Nolan PLC. We can help you protect your legacy and make provisions to care for your loved ones after you pass.

What Happens When Someone Dies With A Will?

When someone with a will, legally known as a “testator,” dies, the will must go through probate. First, a probate judge must decide whether the will is valid. Those with an interest in the estate can contest the will at this time, raising arguments about the validity of the will for the court to consider.

The judge appoints a personal representative for the estate, usually the executor named in the will. Once any will challenges are resolved, the representative pays off estate debts and distributes the remaining assets under the terms of the will.

Contact Batson Nolan PLC online or by calling 931-650-5484.

Who Can Contest A Will?

Only people with a direct financial interest in the case can contest a will. Those with a direct financial interest in the estate typically fit into three categories:

  • Those who have been left property under the current will,
  • Those who were left property under a previous will, and
  • Those who would be entitled to property under Tennessee’s intestacy laws if there was no valid will.

Determining whether you have an interest in a will contest can be complicated. What happens if you were only left something on a previous will that was several drafts ago? Or what if you are several steps down the priority list under the state’s intestacy laws?

Whether you can challenge the will in those and many other situations depends on your unique circumstances. Our seasoned Springfield will contest lawyers can help you determine whether you have a sufficient interest to contest a will.

How Much Time Do I Have To Contest A Will?

Almost all legal matters have a set time during which you must raise your claim or lose it, known as the statute of limitations period. If you want to challenge a will, you have two years from the date a judge admits the will to probate to file your objection.

In What Circumstances Can I Contest a Will?

When you challenge a will, you must have a reason to doubt its validity. You can base an objection on the following:

  • Improper execution,
  • Lack of capacity, or
  • Undue influence.

An attorney can help you determine which of these grounds may apply under your circumstances.

Improper Execution

The law establishes strict criteria for determining the validity of a will, including:

If the deceased fails to follow the strict formalities in creating a valid will, you can challenge the will for improper execution.

Lack Of Capacity

Another common basis for a will contest is a lack of testamentary capacity. A testator who lacked testamentary capacity was not of sound mind or did not understand what they were doing at the time they created the will.

Proving a lack of capacity can be complicated, depending on who was involved in creating the will and how well your loved one could hide any conditions affecting their mind. Our attorneys can work with you to develop a unique strategy to challenge your loved one’s lack of capacity based on the specific narrow circumstances in your case.

Undue Influence

If someone tricked, coerced, threatened, or forced the testator to make certain provisions in their will, you may be able to challenge the will on the grounds of undue influence. Evidence that one person was left substantially more in the will than you might have expected is not enough to prove undue influence on its own, even if that change occurred relatively close to your loved one’s death. Establishing undue influence requires a look at the totality of the circumstances, including:

  • Direct evidence of misconduct,
  • Drastic changes to the will,
  • Changes to the will close in time to the testator’s death,
  • Illnesses affecting the testator,
  • The relationship between the testator and beneficiaries, and
  • Many other unique circumstances.

A claim of undue influence may go hand-in-hand with a claim that your loved one lacked testamentary capacity.

What Is a Trust?

A trust is a financial tool that allows you to place money aside for a third party to manage on behalf of a beneficiary. Trusts involve three specific roles:

  • Grantor—the person who creates the trust;
  • Beneficiary—the person, people, entity, or entities that benefit from the trust; and
  • Trustee—the third party that manages the trust.

Trusts also come in many mix-and-match varieties. If you create a trust during your lifetime to be dispersed while you are living, that is an inter vivos trust. A trust created in a will to be funded upon your death is a testamentary trust. Trusts can be revocable, meaning you, or someone entitled to stand in for you, can take the money back, or irrevocable, meaning no one can take the money back.

Depending on your unique goals, you may want to use one or more trusts in your estate plan. Trusts can usually bypass the probate process, allowing beneficiaries to receive funds sooner. You can also set trust terms that last long after you are gone. In some cases, passing money through a trust also allows you to lower the taxes associated with your estate.

What Types Of Trusts Are There?

There are many types of trusts, but they can generally be broken down into several categories, including:

  • Charitable trusts—set up to benefit a particular charitable cause or beneficiaries who fit specific criteria;
  • Qualified terminable interest property trusts—set up to provide income payments on regular intervals to one or more beneficiaries for a set period;
  • Spendthrift trusts—set up to provide regular income payments to beneficiaries while protecting the funds from those beneficiaries’ creditors;
  • Special needs trusts—set up to benefit a disabled loved one who may need support after you are gone; and
  • Totten trusts—set up to provide money to beneficiaries on death but bypass probate.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. An experienced attorney at Batson Nolan PLC can explore your options with you and help you establish a trust that meets your unique needs.

What Else Should I Do To Prepare?

Creating a will and establishing trusts are some of the most important ways to prepare you and your loved ones for the end of your life, but they are not the only things to do. You should also review the beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and similar instruments to assist in the smooth transfer of your assets. In addition, consider creating a living will and designating healthcare and financial powers of attorney.

Living Wills

Although most people are familiar with wills that activate after death, there are two types of wills. The second is a living will. Rather than dictating what should happen to your property upon your death, a living will dictate how to manage your health if you become incapable of communicating your own wishes. Your living will should be as detailed and extensive as possible, covering instructions like whether to keep you alive on a ventilator or whether to donate your organs.

Health Care Power Of Attorney

Although a living will covers many circumstances, no one can reasonably anticipate everything. A health care power of attorney is a trusted person you designate to make health care decisions not covered in your living will if you cannot. Loss of consciousness and inability to speak for yourself are two examples of when a health care power of attorney can come into play.

Financial Power Of Attorney

When you designate a financial power of attorney, you choose a person or entity to make financial decisions on your behalf if you cannot. Like a health care power of attorney, having a financial power of attorney can give you 931-650-5484peace of mind if you temporarily or permanently lose your capacity to manage your affairs during your lifetime.

Batson Nolan PLC Can Help

Planning for a time when you’re not around can be difficult and stressful, but so is leaving your loved ones behind to pick up the pieces after you pass. Take that burden off you and your loved ones by getting your estate plan in order through compassionate help from an experienced attorney at Batson Nolan PLC.

Call our Springfield wills and trusts lawyers today at 931-650-5484 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

Our lawyers also handle other legal cases, including:

Our attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience across these areas of the law to assist you with your case.