Wills Attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee
There’s almost nothing more important than adequately planning for your future, and this becomes even more true as your family grows. When you have loved ones who you care about and who depend on you financially, you must take the proper legal steps to ensure they continue to be provided for after you pass away. Even if you don’t have anyone who’s financially dependent on you, you still need to ensure you have a plan in place so your loved ones know what your wishes are. Drafting a will with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney is the best way to ensure you’re taking care of your family and that you’re not saddling your loved ones with added stress and expenses.
If you’d like to know more about the benefits of having a will, reach out to me—Mark E. Tillery, Attorney at Law—to schedule an appointment. My office is in Knoxville, Tennessee, but I serve clients throughout Knox County including Maryville, Farragut, and Clinton.
Overview of Wills
A will is the basis of most estate plans and serves as an excellent starting point for people who wish to plan for the future. In general terms, a will is a legally binding document that allows you to list your assets and assign them to specific beneficiaries as well as assign an executor who’s responsible for working with the courts and administering the will. A will also allows you to name a legal guardian for any minor children or pets. Commonly inherited assets included real property like houses, cars, or valuables like jewelry or artwork, as well as money either from a bank account or in the form of an investment like stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.
The most common type of will is a testamentary will (also called a last will and testament) and while this can be written out on your own, it’s almost always wise to work with an attorney to ensure the language is legally binding and that you don’t leave anything out. There are other types of wills such as holographic (handwritten) or oral, but these are generally advised against because they can be hard to uphold in court. You may also wish to draft a mutual will along with a spouse.
Why Is Having a Will Important?
I’m commonly asked by clients, “Who needs a will?” The answer is—everyone. No matter how old you are or how much money you have, everyone can benefit from having a will in place. None of us know when we’ll die and we need to ensure we’ve planned as much as possible to reduce the strain on our loved ones. If you die without a will in place (called dying “intestate”), you’ll be leaving a large amount of work for your family and loved ones. They’ll have to get in touch with the court and a judge will assign someone as administrator. This person will then be responsible for going through all your assets and deciding who should get what. All of this will be done without your input or guidance.
Even with a will in place, your estate will still have to go through the legal process of probate where your will is “proved” in court. During this process, your assets will be identified, inventoried, and in some cases their value will be professionally assessed. All your debts and past due taxes must also be addressed and your creditors must be notified and given enough time to request payment from your estate. After this has been done, your assets can then be distributed to your beneficiaries. This whole process can take several months to complete. However, if you’ve taken the time to lay out your wishes and name an executor you trust, this process will be much easier and will save your loved ones time and money since they’ll know exactly what you want.
Difference Between a Will and a Trust
A common alternative (or addition) to writing a will is a trust. The two documents are similar in that they both assign certain assets for beneficiaries, but they differ in how they do it. With a trust, you’ll transfer ownership of these assets into the name of a trustee while you’re still alive, but you’ll continue to have control over them during your lifetime. In the trust, you’ll then name beneficiaries for these assets so that when you die, your trustee can transfer them directly to your heirs instead of first having to go through the process of probate.
Wills Attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee
Starting the process of writing a will can take time—especially if you want to do it right—but it will serve you and your loved ones well into the future. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your family will be cared for after you pass. If you’re in the Knoxville, Tennessee area and would like to learn more about wills or trusts, contact my firm, Mark E. Tillery, Attorney at Law, to schedule a consultation.