a

Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning & Probate

Probate of Estates

We have been involved with the probate of estates for over 30 years. The process of probating an estate can be very worrisome especially at a time when a family member has just passed away.

The probate of an estate can involve the administration of an estate in which the decedent had a Will or those in which they did not have a will. Many aspects of the probate of an estate can be difficult when dealing with creditors and the distribution of assets.

Our office has handled the probate of estates throughout Middle Tennessee, particularly in Wilson, Davidson, Sumner, Smith, Rutherford, and Trousdale counties. Depending on how a person has structured their estate plan with their Will, Power of Attorney and other documents, the process may be very simple. However, probate can become complex when dealing with creditors, medical bills, TennCare and real estate.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 615-449-8700 to set up an appointment. We can sit down and discuss your situation. You will leave with a clear understanding of the process and the next steps you need to take. Regardless of whether you hire us, we want you to leave feeling relief that one less burden has been removed so that the future looks bright.

What Documents Do You Need for Your Estate Plan?

Almost every time someone calls, they tell us that they were told they need a trust. You can always hear or see the fear of clients who dread even discussing their situation. Or they have heard terrible stories of complicated trusts and wills that even the client has no idea what it does or why.

When we sit down with a potential client we discuss what they want or the ideas they may have. We have to learn about their family dynamics, any special needs or concerns, the extent of the estate and how they want to protect their hard earned estate. The drafting of trusts, wills, powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, living wills and health care directives is formed around the client's most important asset: their family.

I have had many clients tell me they have read the documents and that they "trust me" to have written how they wanted it done. I will take as long as needed to make sure that a client understands what has been drafted in plain language everyone can understand.

When dealing with a complete estate plan, there are many other considerations that need to be taken into account which can supplement these documents. These simple techniques can save thousands of dollars and make the whole process much simpler and effective.

Please call the office at 615-449-8700 to set a time so we can just talk. You will go away with a better understanding of your options to complete an estate plan built around your family.

Do you really need a Trust? Or a complex Will?

Many years ago a trust was almost a requirement to avoid paying a huge amount of estate tax. Though the trust could be expensive, it would save tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Now the inheritance tax is very different. The State of Tennessee no longer has a gift or inheritance tax. The Federal system has raised the exemption to $11,180,000 for an individual and $22,360,000 for a married couple. Of course, it reverts back to 2017 levels in 2025.

Though the estate tax issues have changed, there will always be a need to make sure that you plan for your estate to care for your family. Trusts can still be used, but depend on your ideas for your estate. Wills with trust provisions, special needs trusts, powers of attorney, and other techniques can provide for your family and take full advantage of the current tax law.

These documents are not expensive, andt in most circumstances you will save time and expense when the day comes that you really need them. Please give us a call at 615-449-8700 to set an appointment to discuss the options. The first step is to gain the needed information to understand the importance of having a will or trust.

How Complicated is the Probate Process?

If you search Google or hear people's personal experiences about the probate process, you will find there are many scary stories about the probate process. Unfortunately, many times when a family member passes, the survivors begin to expect to receive an inheritance which can lead to litigation.
In general, the probate process in Tennessee is very straight forward. Many cases can be opened and closed in 5-6 months. In the Middle Tennessee area, including Wilson, Sumner, Rutherford, Davidson, Smith, Trousdale, Macon and Dekalb counties, we have very good probate court judges and clerks.

Whether a person has passed with or without a Will, the process is basically the same, with a few minor differences. The beneficiaries and heirs of the estate are notified, assets and bills of the estate are put together. The process is set in motion to make sure that a person's wishes are followed under the law. Ultimately, the bills are paid and the estate is distributed to the heirs.

When we first meet with a client we walk them through what the process is, getting the original Will (if there is one) and gathering information. As more information comes in, we continue to process the estate in order to bring closure for the family.

If a family member has recently passed and you have questions, please call us. If you don't have an estate plan or a will, we can take the time to talk and educate you on what is best for your family. Please call McBrien Law Group at 615-449-8700 and set an appointment.

What if my family member didn't have any Power of Attorneys, is now not competent to sign one and can no longer manage their own affairs?

Being in a position to have to ask the Court to establish a Conservatorship over a family member or friend is hard. However, often that person can not receive the appropriate medical care or state benefits, unless someone is able to step in and legally help them.

Conservatorships are set up by the Court for those that can not take care of their own needs.

There are usually two situations where a Conservatorship is needed.

A disabled child becomes a disabled adult and their parent can technically no longer make decisions for them. This leaves the parent unable to insure their child receives their state and/or health benefits. It also leaves the children vulnerable to other adults who may want to take advantage of them.

In Tennessee, parents have the right to Petition the Court to become their children's Conservator. The Court will review the child's medical history and determine if a Conservatorship is warranted. If it is, the parent (or sometimes another family member) is appointed Conservator and can continue to make decisions for their children past the age of 18.

At other times, a parent becomes disabled and a family member, child or sometimes even a friend must be appointed to take care of their medical and financial decisions. Who becomes the Conservator can sometimes be a question that is to be litigated.

That law in Tennessee sets out a list of people who may be Conservator and sometimes someone on the list may not be the right person to be the Conservator. Ultimately, if there is a dispute, the Judge, after listening to proof, decides who will be the Conservator. Once a conservatorship is established, usually a bond will have to be posted to insure the Conservator manages the ward's money faithfully. And every year the Conservator will be required to account for the wards money to the Court. The Conservator may also petition the court to be reimbursed, each year, for the time they have spent as Conservator. They may also petition the Court to have their attorney fees and bond fees reimbursed.

The process may seem daunting but can often be accomplished within a matter of weeks and in emergencies, it can be accomplished in hours.

Get In Touch With A Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning & Probate Attorney Today