Estate Planning

How well have you planned for the future? Do you have the right legal documents in place to ensure that all your financial and health care needs and wishes are met, even if you are not in a position to make decisions for yourself? Have you named responsible and trusted individuals to make decisions for you should the need arise?

A comprehensive Estate Plan ensures that you and your family are provided for and your goals are met both during your lifetime and after your death. Regardless of your net worth, it is important to have an Estate Plan in place to ensure peace of mind for you and all of your loved ones. Thoughtful and thorough planning is crucial to guarantee that your Estate Plan works for you.

Because circumstances are always changing, it is necessary to review your Estate Plan with your attorney every few years. There may have been many changes in the law and in your life since you last updated your Estate Plan. Any major change in your life should trigger a revision of your Estate Plan. Have you moved to Tennessee from another state? Have you lost a spouse, retired, or remarried? Do you now have grandchildren or great-grandchildren you did not include in your planning? If you had a Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney drawn up twenty years ago, they are due to be dusted off and updated. Elder Law of East Tennessee can help you take stock of your assets and create the personal long-term plan that is right for you.

The elements of a comprehensive Estate Plan with Elder Law of East Tennessee include the following:

  • Last Will and Testament to name your Personal Representative and instruct him or her on how to satisfy your debts and last expenses and then distribute your property after you pass away (also includes a contingent Special Needs Trust for any beneficiary who is or may become disabled);
  • Durable General Power of Attorney to name your Attorney-in-Fact and empower him or her to manage your finances, pay your bills, and attend to other financial and property-related matters while you are living if you are unable to do those things yourself;
  • Durable Health Care Power of Attorney to name an Agent who can make the right health care decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes for yourself;
  • Living Will and Advance Care Plan to clearly communicate to your Agent, medical providers, and loved ones exactly which treatments you choose or refuse, including when to stop medical treatment and allow for a natural and pain-free death;
  • HIPAA Release to allow your designated Agent (and anyone else you choose to name) hassle-free access to your medical records; and
  • Review and update to Beneficiary Designations, etc. for non-probate assets.

Some clients choose to use a Trust as part of their Estate Plan. Trusts can be very useful estate planning tools to manage property during life under the control of a trustee or co-trustees. Effective use of the right kind of trust can also help to avoid the cost and delay associated with probate.

Stay in Touch

Careful estate planning is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.  Even after establishing your Estate Plan, you may encounter a situation that causes you to change or revise your decisions.  Elder Law of East Tennessee now offers the Stay in Touch (SIT) maintenance program for clients who wish to keep their estate plans up to date when laws or circumstances change.

Through Stay in Touch, clients who have established their Estate Plan with Elder Law of East Tennessee can keep their Estate Plans current and address crisis situations before they get out of hand.  Through routine check-ups, notifications, education, and continuing advice when circumstances change, we help to plan ahead for life’s many unknowns.  A Stay in Touch plan is appropriate for those who are proactive and planning ahead or who anticipate future changes in circumstances but are uncertain as to when and how serious those changes may be.

Make sure your estate plan works for you.  For help with your plan, give Elder Law of East Tennessee a call at 865-951-2410 to schedule a conversation.  Or fill out our simple online contact form, and we will reach out to you to get started.