The SafeEstates Blog

September 19, 2017

Estate Planning Awareness Week – October 16-20th, 2017

October 16-20th is Estate Planning Awareness Week! Join us for a FREE seminar at the Brentwood Library on October 16th from 5-6pm, as we answer common questions about estate planning. This is a great opportunity if you've never created an estate plan, or if your estate plan is out of date. Please RSVP here if you'd like to join us for this FREE event, hosted by Safe Estates!

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August 10, 2017

Substantive Tip: Changes to the Law Related to the Memorandum of Tangible Personal Property

Tennessee lawmakers recently clarified the law related to the Memorandum of Tangible Personal Property.  This legislation became effective on July 1st.  Under the new law, your will or trust can refer to a separate written statement.  You can create the written statement to dispose of items of tangible personal property.  As a reminder, these items include furniture, art work, jewelry, guns, clothing, collectibles and vehicles, but the items cannot include money (unless a coin collection), real estate, securities or documents of title or indebtedness.  The list can be created before or after you sign your estate plan, and it has to be in...

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August 1, 2017

Does A Business Die When Its Founder Is Murdered?

What happens when the founder of a company dies unexpectedly?  Jim Miller founded Jim Miller Excavating Company, Inc.  in Sweetwater, Tennessee in 1990.  Jim operated the business until he was murdered in 2010 at age 60.  On the day of his death, he worked on an interstate highway project until dark, then attended an election commission meeting late in the evening.  He never made it home afterwards.  He died intestate (no will), survived by his spouse, Vickie, and his daughters, Mechelle and Jamie, from a previous relationship. Because he had no will, Jim’s estate passed by intestate succession to his...

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July 17, 2017

Substantive Tip – I Have A New Will. What Should I Do With My Old One?

If you are satisfied with your new will, destroy the old ones by shredding or burning them.  Before taking that step, however, consider the consequences after your death if you do or do not destroy your old wills.  If your new will is contested (based on incapacity or undue influence) and declared invalid, or your new will cannot be found, your most recent old will may take effect even if your new will expressly revoked all previous wills.  If your new will is invalid and your old wills have been destroyed, your estate will be administered based on your state’s...

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July 3, 2017

Independence Day Reflections

I recently watched the movie version of the musical 1776.  I remember seeing the stage version in Texas in 1976.  My brother, Jonathan, played in the orchestra.  The musical tells the story of the Declaration of Independence.  The take-away lesson for me: stay focused on the goal of independence even though it requires painful political compromise.  Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin collaborated and shepherded 13 distinct colonies to form one unified nation.  The delegates had arguments but stuck to the task until the goal was reached.  We continue to grow in our realization of the promises and truths expressed...

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June 22, 2017

Good Intentions Fall Short

A great estate plan is set up with clear goals in mind. Sometimes even the best intentions fall short, and you have to be sure your estate plan simply states your final wishes, so nothing is left in question. Tadeusz Kościuszko was a prominent figure in the history of the American Revolution. In 1798 Kościuszko decided to leave the United States and return to the Russian-controlled sector of Poland. Before leaving, he wrote out a will, which he entrusted to his friend, Thomas Jefferson as executor. Kościuszko left his American estate to buy the freedom of black slaves, including Jefferson's...

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June 10, 2017

If There’s A Will, I Want To Be In It!

Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the ending of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and frequently humorous.  Winston Churchill and Groucho Marx loved them.  Paraprosdokian comes from Greek, meaning “contrary to expectation.”  In addition to the title of this article, here are a few paraprosdokians we have encountered in our work with contested estates and family businesses. If I agreed with you, we would both be wrong. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it is on my list. I didn’t say it was your fault, I only said I was blaming you. When tempted to fight...

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May 17, 2017

Substantive Tip – Who Controls Your Headstone?

In the Estate of Love involved a dispute over the name inscribed on the decedent’s headstone.  The litigants included the surviving spouse, adult children, biological father, biological mother and adoptive father.  The court decided the surviving spouse had the right of disposition of the decedent’s remains, including the right to control the inscription on the headstone. Tennessee law provides the right to control the disposition of the decedent’s remains vests first in the decedent, but if the decedent leaves no specific instructions, the right of disposition vests in the following persons in the order named: (1) attorney in fact designated in...

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May 10, 2017

Planning for Seniors

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day will be here soon.  RJ and I are fortunate to have all of our parents and some of our grandparents living.  What is the oldest age a child has reached while both parents are still living?  According to a 110 Club survey, Lowell Carroll of Bloomfield, Iowa was 79 at his father’s death in 1994.  When Lowell moved to a nursing home at age 92, it worried his 111-year old mother! As people live longer, many couples find themselves in the situation where one spouse becomes incapacitated due to dementia or the progression of aging.The...

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April 5, 2017

Is Your Estate Plan Too Much Like an Easter Egg Hunt?

Every Spring, kids have a blast searching their home, backyard, or church property for small plastic eggs hidden with goodies. Some have chocolate, others might have a trinket, or the ultimate find, an egg with a $1 bill inside! This type of scavenger hunt is enjoyable, but it won't be as fun for your kids later on if they're hunting for important estate planning documents once you're gone. To help your loved ones avoid the "hunt", be sure to keep your original estate planning documents (such as your will), stored in a safe and accessible place. A home safe or filing cabinet...

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