The SafeEstates Blog

February 10, 2021

For Love or Money

Valentine’s Day is a day we celebrate love.  For some, our love language is gift giving.  Don’t you love those friends and family members who are consistently generous gift givers?  They thoughtfully choose the perfect gift and enjoy giving it as much as we enjoy receiving it. I started reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes again this year.  I am in the middle of The Hound of the Baskervilles, a story about how a remote heir to the Baskerville fortune attempts to prevent the nearer heirs from inheriting.  At that time, English law allowed transfer of a decedent’s estate as entailed...

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January 11, 2021

Retirement Accounts and Life Insurance: Time to Review Beneficiary Designations

We frequently meet with new clients who have done a great job contributing to their retirement accounts and buying life insurance to protect their families but have not received good advice about naming beneficiaries for these important investments. The most common mistake we see is when parents designate their spouse as primary beneficiary (good) but designate their minor children as the secondary beneficiaries. By law, the children may be turned loose with the money at age 18. Not a good plan! The better choice is to (1) at a minimum designate a trusted adult as custodian under the uniform transfers...

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January 4, 2021

Unwieldy Estates

Do you feel glad 2020 has ended? In my world, it seemed like 2020 rewarded simplicity and willingness to pivot and punished resistance to change. Maybe every year does that. We also saw reminders that having a plan is better than having no plan. This was especially true for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and leveraged investors. They tend to have what we call unwieldy estates. You may have read or heard about the November 27, 2020 death of Tony Hsieh in a house fire in Connecticut. Mr. Hsieh was a co-founder of Zappos.com, the very successful online shoe store headquartered...

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December 15, 2020

How has COVID-19 affected Estate Planning? Technology to be grateful for…

In order for a Will to be valid in Tennessee, the testator and two witnesses must sign in the presence of each other. For convenience, the witnesses also may sign an affidavit in the presence of a notary stating the facts required to prove the will in court. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing has made these “in person” requirements difficult for many. However, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has signed a series of Executive Orders that temporarily waive these requirements (through December 29) and allow for remote witnessing and notarization of documents through real-time...

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November 12, 2020

Watch For Falling Prices?

The holiday shopping season is upon us. Will you do most of your shopping online or at brick and mortar retail stores? Will you shop early or wait for falling prices? Do you know Walmart, the largest retailer in America, gets about 10% of its total revenue from online sales? Sam Walton bought his first store in 1945 at age 26 in Newport, Arkansas. When the landlord refused to renew the lease, Sam was forced to sell the store to the landlord. Undeterred, Sam bought a different store 200 miles away in Bentonville, Arkansas. By 1962, Sam and brother Bud owned 16 stores. They opened the first...

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September 3, 2020

The Presidents Who Became POTUS

As our nation begins a new school year, we thank our teachers and administrators who show up every school day to love and enlighten our children. Have you ever thought about the teachers who later became POTUS? There are more who were POTUS first and professor later. How many US Presidents also served as college or university presidents? Thomas Jefferson and James Madison held both positions in reverse order, serving first as 3rd and 4th POTUS and later as 1st and 2nd Rector of University of Virginia. As best I can determine, there were four who moved from college president to POTUS. Millard Fillmore was...

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July 2, 2020

Celebrating Our Independence and Adjusting to the Velocity of Change

Our nation marks its 244th birthday this month. Recently much has been said about prejudice, injustice, immorality, hatred and selfish ambition in America. It may feel like America has made huge social justice changes for good over the past 5, 10, or 55 years. If may feel like the velocity of change is too slow. I hope you will take time on July 4 to reflect on the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control you see in other Americans. As Paul the apostle points out, “against such things there is no law.” How are you doing after several months of travel...

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June 3, 2020

A Tale of Two Children

Recently, I read Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House on a recommendation of my wife, Mary Ann, and our TV and podcast friend, Dana Perino. I expected a well written novel. I did not expect a casebook on business succession planning and estate planning. I don’t want to spoil the book for you if you have not read it, so I apologize in advance if I go too far. The Dutch House tells the story of Danny Conroy and his sister, Maeve, and their relationship with their childhood home. Their father’s lack of thoughtful planning and a harsh turn of events force them to make difficult...

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June 1, 2020

COVID-19 and Legal Services

We hope you are safe and well. Those who have experienced personal loss from the pandemic are in our thoughts and prayers. Those who have relieved the suffering of others in their distress, thank you for your kindness and generosity. We are available to help you with legal services. At present our team is safe and symptom-free. We are following CDC guidelines and the Tennessee Pledge guidelines. Since our office reopened for all in-person services everything has gone well. We are meeting in person with clients to sign documents and perform other tasks. We are conducting many client meetings by...

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May 4, 2020

The Queen of Mean and Trouble

Born in 1920, Leona Rosenthal dropped out of a Brooklyn high school to seek her fortune. She became a millionaire selling real estate in Manhattan. In 1972 she married real estate entrepreneur Harry Helmsley. Together they built a real estate empire that included the Empire State Building. Their hotels included the Helmsley Palace, New York Helmsley Hotel, Park Lane Hotel, and 20 other hotels in Florida and other states. In 1988, Rudy Giuliani (then U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York) indicted them on tax related charges and extortion. Because Harry was ruled unfit to stand trial, Leona faced the charges alone. The trial...

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