The SafeEstates Blog

November 5, 2017

A Lesson From Tom Petty on End of Life Decisions

After Randy finished law school, he joined a law firm in Gainesville, Florida. From the law firm partners and the local judges, Randy received much mentoring, kindness, encouragement and correction. One judge was especially memorable. Judge Tench had silver hair, wore a neatly trimmed and waxed handlebar moustache, and was a dapper dresser. At an early morning hearing, Judge Tench enthusiastically described attending his son’s rock concert in Jacksonville the night before. Randy knew the judge’s son played in a local band, but did not know much about the group. It was remarkable to hear conservative and distinguished Judge Tench so supportive of his son’s...

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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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March 17, 2017

St. Patrick’s Day – A Reminder for Fiduciaries

March 17th 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’s Day is also a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran and Episcopal churches. St. Patrick is remembered for turning Ireland from druid led polytheism to Christianity.  Patrick (Irish – Padraig) has come to symbolize Irish heritage and identity. St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of Ireland itself. Wearing of the green is a tradition based on St. Patrick’s use of the shamrock to illustrate the...

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October 25, 2016

Undue Influence

I lived in Seattle before moving to Tennessee about three years ago.  Recently, a case went all the way up to the Washington Supreme Court that involved a ninety-five year old woman named Eva who changed her will shortly before her death and left her entire estate (including 50 acres of very valuable real estate located on the Puget Sound) to a postal worker friend who had become Eva’s caregiver in recent years.  Eva’s family contested the new will and won the case because the court held that the caregiver had exerted undue influence over Eva. Unfortunately, it is common...

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August 15, 2014

The Power of a Living Will

My father decided early in his long term care experience that he wanted to die naturally.  He did not want to miss a minute of his long and happy life, but he also did not want to over stay his time.  He made his wishes clear to his family in conversations and in writing.  While I have been grieving since his death on May 30, I have taken comfort in knowing his wishes were carried out. I am often asked: “I am concerned about ending life well if I am no longer able to make my own decisions.  What is...

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