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Nashville Tennessee Legal Blog

How estate plans may prevent small business skirmishes

It's understandable for busy business owners in Tennessee to push certain things to the bottom of their to-do lists. But it may not be such a good idea to put off finalizing an estate plan. In fact, poor estate planning has led to legal complications for many late celebrities with business holdings, including Aretha Franklin and Prince. Even one of the world's most famous attorneys, Abraham Lincoln, died intestate, the legal term for without a will.

For business owners, estate planning and probate processes can be streamlined by taking some strategic steps. In addition to a will, it can be helpful for an entrepreneur to have an estate plan that includes life and disability insurance. With a successor plan, a sole proprietor can name their preferred successor, and the owner of a family-run business can determine how they want their share of the business to be divided. A buy-sell agreement can help a partial owner or partner of a corporation to dictate how their shares or interests may be purchased or split.

Basics of a car insurance claim: Things you need to do

You never want to be part of a car accident, but if you are, it's nice to know that you have insurance to protect you. Although you expect your car insurance company to honor the terms and conditions of your policy, it's not always as easy as it sounds to file a claim and receive the compensation you deserve.

Here are a few things you need to know about making a car insurance claim:

  • Contact your agent as soon as possible: If you were seriously injured in a car accident, you may not be able to contact your agent right away. However, in the event of a minor crash, you may be able to do so within hours.
  • Review your policy: Don't assume you understand the finer details of your policy. Review it from start to finish to ensure that you have a firm grasp of your coverage and what to expect from your insurance company in the days and weeks to come.
  • Take detailed notes: This is an absolute must, as it's impossible to remember everything about a motor vehicle accident. Take notes regarding the cause of the accident, your role and any conversations with insurance company representatives. Also, it's critical to take photos of the accident scene and your injuries.
  • Be honest with your insurance company: You should never feel pushed into saying something that isn't true. Stick to the facts when discussing the accident with your insurance company. Also, if you don't know how to answer a question you have the right to say so and remain quiet on the subject.
  • Keep receipts for all expenses: If you incur any expenses as the result of your accident, such as medical bills and those for meals and lodging, keep the receipts until you reach a final settlement.

Getting kids ready for a new school year post-divorce

Any new school year can contribute to some degree of apprehension for children in Tennessee in any grade level. For children suddenly splitting their time between two homes following a divorce, the school-related anxiety level can understandably be a bit higher. One solution is for former spouses to use the time prior to the start of a new school year to get on the same page with how everything from extra expenses and early dismissals to homework and school schedules will be handled.

A good starting point can be for both parents to ask their child(ren) about specific goals related to academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities. If lingering animosity over family law matters related to a recent divorce prohibits both parents from having a productive conversation together, children can still discuss their goals and expectations for the coming school year individually with each parent. With expenses for things like dances, school supplies, and athletic equipment, some parents prefer to split costs evenly, while others prefer to make a list or base it on income.

How Tennesseans can learn from celebrity estate planning failures

While Aretha Franklin and Prince were amazingly successful in their careers, they had shortcomings in regard to estate planning. Both of these legendary performers failed to take clear steps to determine how their wealth would be passed on to their beneficiaries. Franklin, who died without a will, has four grown children, including one with special needs. Prince also died without having created a will.

When an estate owner dies without a will, their loved ones may not receive intended inheritances. Even if the estate eventually passes into the right people's hands, there could be extensive and costly delays in probate court. The estate could also be more open to family disputes as a result. The estate could owe additional taxes in probate. In addition, when wealth is not passed on through a trust or other structured plan, an adult child with special needs may lose out on government benefits.

Estate planning with children in mind

Estate planning can be particularly important for Tennessee parents. When creating wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other key documents, people can make specific arrangements to provide for their children. Creating an estate plan in advance can provide financial benefits like reducing tax burdens or eliminating probate costs and delays. Furthermore, planning ahead can give the estate owner greater peace of mind by knowing that their children and other loved ones will be cared for.

Estate planning can be accessible to families of all means. For someone with significant wealth, they can develop a plan that is as complex as necessary to ensure that their assets are managed properly for the maximum benefit of heirs. For people of more modest means, an estate plan does not need to be complex or expensive. Each type of estate document can be critical for parents. In addition to passing on assets, a will can name a desired guardian for the children in case both parents pass away. Trusts can provide a mechanism to transfer wealth to minor children over the years.

People determine the fate of an estate plan

Tennessee residents and others with an estate plan need to act carefully when naming their representatives. If the wrong person is chosen to act on an individual's behalf, it could blow up the entire plan. The three main representatives a person has is an agent, a trustee and an executor. The agent has authority to act with permission granted in a power of attorney or health care directive form.

A trustee is given broad authority to make decisions regarding a trust while the executor is charged with settling an estate after a person dies. Other important figures may include a funeral agent and a long-term care lapse designee. Problems can arise when a person is named to a role without being consulted first. It can also be problematic when the responsibilities of one role overlap with those of another.

Posting online is risky after a failed Breathalyzer test

It's so easy to lose track of time when you meet with friends after work. Many people trust themselves to have one or two drinks and then plan to drive home within the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit. However, it is extremely difficult to know whether you really are driving legally after consuming any alcohol at all and proceeding to step into the driver's seat. It is all too common to get caught driving under the influence of alcohol in the state of Tennessee.

After failing a Breathalyzer test, drivers tend to surrender themselves to the belief that a DUI charge is imminent and unavoidable. However, if you do believe that you were, in fact, under the legal limit when the Breathalyzer test was taken, it is possible to defend yourself. Breathalyzer tests are notorious for being inaccurate, so a successful defense and a dismissal of charges is possible, in many situations. If you believe that you were legally driving when you failed a Breathalyzer test, it is vital that you protect your defense possibilities by following some simple rules.

Don't be caught financially off-guard during a divorce

Divorce often brings with it some financial surprises, but Tennessee residents can prepare for them. Learning about marital finances before the divorce process even begins is the first step in planning for financial health after the divorce is final.

A recent survey conducted by the online marketplace Worthy looked at the ways women were surprised when it came to finances during divorce. They found six main surprises including lacking knowledge about their marital debt, not knowing that they would have to return to work, making incorrect assumptions about the amount of child support and alimony and how long they would receive it, thinking they could keep their home, not knowing just how much health insurance costs and underestimating how expensive divorce can be.

Trusts and the rise in interest rates

There are various types of trusts that Tennessee residents can include in their estate plans. With the recent rise in interest rates, the grantor retained annuity trust and the charitable lead annuity trust have become increasingly popular with estate owners who want to pass down more to their beneficiaries.

A GRAT is a trust that has been created to function for a specific period of time. It has an annuity that pays the grantor a set amount for every year the trust is in existence. The annuity payout consists of the retained interest, and after the grantor dies, the remaining value will be transferred to the grantor's beneficiaries.

Gun ownership restrictions in Tennessee

While Tennessee residents are allowed to own guns, there are some limitations imposed on gun ownership. For instance, an individual must pass a background check if they buy their firearm from a licensed dealer. The background check costs $10, and there is no waiting period imposed on the sale of a gun. Even if a person passes a background check, there are limitations as to the types of weapons that he or she can own.

The state makes it illegal to own a machine gun or an explosive weapon. There is also a ban in place on any device that is designed to shoot an explosive weapon. Furthermore, silencers and short-barreled rifles and shotguns are illegal in the state. Those who have been convicted of a felony that resulted in a prison sentence of more than one year cannot own a firearm.

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Stover Law Group
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Nashville, TN 37201

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