The SafeEstates Blog

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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January 1, 2021

Bringing In 2021 With Positivity!

2020 was a year full of unknown, but despite the devastation and disappointments there are some positive things to take with you into 2021. In 2020, many of us ran across things that we could not control - businesses closing, virtual learning, and our 'normal' being not so normal. If you're anything like me, I find myself stressing about these things. In this new season, we must learn to give it up and focus on the things that we can control - our attitude, giving grace to others, and our health. Attitude is something that affects everything in your daily...

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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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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 1, 2020

COVID-19 and Legal Services

We hope you are safe and well. Those who have experienced personal loss from the tornado or 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 still available to help you with legal services. We are following CDC guidelines, washing our hands, social distancing, disinfecting surfaces regularly, etc. Our office will reopen for all in-person services on May 4. Initially we will limit our in-office appointments to 1 each morning and 1 each afternoon. We will follow the Tennessee Pledge: General Guidelines for Businesses which you can...

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April 1, 2020

COVID-19 and Legal Services

We hope you are safe and well. Those who have experienced personal loss from the tornado or 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. As this newsletter is heading to publication, Metro Health Department has issued a Safer at Home Order directing all Davidson County residents to stay inside their homes from March 23-April 5 except to take care of essential needs and obtain or provide essential services. Legal services are among those deemed “essential services businesses” which will remain open. The Safer at Home Order...

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June 1, 2019

Being Clear About Who’s The Boss

Singer-songwriter, musician and producer Tom Petty died in October 2017 thinking he had a good estate plan. He created a trust and named his widow, Dana York Petty, the trustee. The trust beneficiaries are Dana and Tom’s two daughters (Adria and Annakim) from a previous marriage. This seems like a clear and simple plan. However, the trust terms also say he wants Adria and Annakim to have “equal participation” in making decisions. Dana says she is the trustee and has final say on decisions; Adria and Annakim say majority rules. Dana wants the court to establish who is in charge; the daughters have sued for damages...

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April 5, 2019

The Town Where Everyone Talks About Death

What would you say if I told you there was a town where 96% of adults who pass away had planned it out? This place exists, and it's the beautiful town of La Crosse, WI. These folks have filled out an advance directive, outlining how they want to die. While it may sound morbid, it's exactly the opposite! In La Crosse, Wisconsin, you're the odd man out if you don't have a plan in place for your death. Nationally, only about 30 percent of adults have an advance directive or similar documents outlining a plan. In this community, talking about death...

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March 16, 2019

St Patrick’s Day – A Reminder for Fiduciaries

March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador. It is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. St. Patrick is remembered for turning Ireland from druid led polytheism to Christianity.  Wearing of the green is a tradition based on St. Patrick’s use of the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity of father, son and spirit. Patrick wrote the Declaration or Confession , a biographical account of his life and mission. Much of the Declaration concerns charges made against him at a trial. It appears he was accused of some sort of financial impropriety in receiving and distributing gifts but...

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