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Wills, Trusts, Probate, Power of Attorney, Conservator & Guardianship

Everyone has the need for estate planning. At the minimum a "Will ", a "Living Will" and a "Durable Power Of Attorney For Health Care." The "Living Will" and a "Durable Power Of Attorney For Health Care" are documents provided for under Tennessee law which gives you the right to refuse medical treatment or appoint health care appointees and their successors. These two papers work together, so it’s a good idea to have both. The "Will " also known as the Last Will and Testament is an important document which closes the loop between what you want done, and what the law will do if you have not made the choice. A "Power of Attorney" for financial affairs is the most common vehicle between husband and wives to transfer power and allow for avoiding conservatorships. Limited powers of attorney also can be crafted to deal with specific events and is a very useful financial tool.

You may need to develop a trust for your property or to protect a loved one. If you want to control the estate you pass to another you will need a trust. If you want to protect your estate from avoidable taxation, you will need a trust . A Qualified Income Trust (also known as a "Miller Trust ") is an important vehicle for persons to provide for their loved ones when they need nursing home care and the loved one earns more than the state allows but less than the needed monthly payment of the nursing home.

If you gift to a minor, they will need a guardian, also if the minor is in need of an adult (example: both parents have died in an accident) a guardian will be appointed. Your will is an excellent document to inform the court of your desires. If you become incompacitated, you will need a conservator . A Conservatorship is a legal action of the court removing rights and assigning a conservator to protect your rights. The appointment process provides for court oversight of the conservator . A guardian or conservator is not a trustee , but a trustee appointment may avoid the conservatorship.

Probate is the legal process for changing ownership of property from someone who has died to the beneficiaries named in a will or surviving relatives who are to receive the property. Probate is also your estate’s friend because with proper legal process, creditors can be cut off from making claims on your beneficiaries in their future. Federal estate taxes and state inheritance taxes must still be paid on interests received by survivorship in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, (but not tenancy by the entirety because this is a special form of ownership available to married couples). In some instances, the creation of joint tenancy with right of survivorship may result in having to pay gift taxes.


The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements, certification, specialization or self-proclaimed expertise. Certifications of specialization are available to Tennessee lawyers in all areas of practice relating to or included in the areas of Civil Trial, Criminal Trial, Business Bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy, Creditor's Rights, Medical Malpractice, Legal Malpractice, Accounting Malpractice, Elder Law, Estate Planning and Family Law. Listing of related or included practice areas herein does not constitute or imply representation of certification of specialization. These disclosures are required by the Supreme Court of Tennessee.  This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.



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