When it comes to estate planning, sometimes the most difficult part is just getting started. But Matthew Mullins can help you get it together. A graduate of Belmont University’s College of Law, Mullins works with clients to provide for the orderly transfer of their assets; and to ensure that their personal preferences are met in the event of incapacitation. Recently he spoke to Mount Juliet City Lifestyle about some common issues regarding wills and estate planning.
Why do some people resist implementing an estate plan?
Some people think, ‘I’m not wealthy; I don’t have an estate,’ but that’s not true. Estate planning is really for times of incapacity. If you’re incapacitated for a year, who is going to manage your affairs? The size of the estate does not matter. We all have people, relationships, and possessions in our lives, regardless of monetary value.
A lot of people are moving here from other states. Are their estate plans valid in Tennessee?
Generally speaking, states recognize valid wills that were executed with the laws of the states where they were created. However, I think it’s a good idea to review your estate planning documents with a local estate planning attorney to avoid any misunderstandings. One of the nuances is how different states recognize ownership of a couple’s assets. Some states recognize it as community property, where it’s owned 50-50. Here, it’s Tenancy by Entirety, meaning that the assets are owned by the married couple. It’s important to know the difference. Another option is to establish a trust that mimics the laws of your original state.
What happens if someone doesn’t have a will?
“That’s a common misconception. Everyone has a will, whether you write it or the state writes it. In the absence of a will, there are laws in Tennessee that specify what will become of your assets at the time of your death. These are important considerations because, ultimately, it’s peace of mind for you and your family.”
Matthew Mullins, Mullins Law PLLC
1 / Plan for your incapacity
Make sure your documents for a healthcare power of attorney and durable power of attorney are executed correctly and that your family knows where the documents are located.
2 / Assess your situation
Determine if you want a will or a living trust. If your goal is to avoid probate, you’ll probably need a trust. These are important decisions for blended families or families with young children.
3 / Consistent Beneficiaries
Make sure assets like 401k accounts, and life insurance policies are consistent with your estate plan. It’s not common, but the worst-case scenario would be to remarry, not update the beneficiaries, and your 401k goes to your ex-spouse.
4 / Adjust for life-changing events
Every few years, review your documents and make sure everything is set up the way it’s supposed to be.