Writing Your Own Obituary | Will Lawyer in Nashville

Writing Your Own Obituary | Will Lawyer in Nashville

Working with a will lawyer in Nashville can bring up some uncomfortable feelings. Those of us in this area of law are very aware of the fact that many people avoid important planning for this very reason. After all, there aren’t a whole lot of people who want to contemplate their own demise, let alone the feelings of those left behind. 

Writing your own obituary can actually be kind of a cathartic experience that helps with the estate planning process. It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your own life, as well as to help shape how you will be remembered. It also takes some of the burden off of those who are left behind that might not be up to writing such an intense piece in the middle of grieving. You can write your obituary and have your will lawyer in Nashville keep it in your file so that it is ready to go when it is needed. 

What to Include 

You don’t necessarily have to write a full obituary, but it’s a good idea to at least make a list of some key points to make it easier on the person who does the actual writing later. The guidelines for obituaries vary depending on where they will be published. Many funeral homes will place them on their web sites free of charge, but newspapers will charge to publish them. A will lawyer in Nashville will be able to tell you what local outlets expect when it comes to length and cost. 

Some of the things that you may want to include are: 

  • Date and place of birth 
  • Education and employment background 
  • Military service 
  • Achievements and awards 
  • Family information regarding children, grandchildren, spouses, and parents 
  • Hobbies and interests 
  • A photo you would like used 

In addition, you may want to include your wishes regarding memorials. If you’d like flowers sent to the church or funeral home, for instance, you can include that. It’s also common for people to request that donations be made to a favorite charity “in lieu of flowers.” 

Again, you may prefer not to write the entire obituary yourself, rather you may choose to just include this information in your documents so that your family and friends have it to refer to when they create the obituary after your death. If you do choose to write your own, you may want to review it with your loved ones every once in a while to ensure that it is kept up to date and reflects any recent changes. 

If you would like to discuss other ways you can make the grieving process easier on your family, read more here.

What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will?

What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will?

Introduction to Tennessee’s Intestacy Law

Dying without a will, is unfortunately very common. If you die without a will, your property will likely go through a court process called probate and will ultimately be distributed according to Tennessee’s intestacy law. Here are some common events that may happen if you die intestate:

  1. Your immediate next of kin, whoever they are, will likely inherit your property first. If you die intestate, everything goes to your next of kin. Your next of kin are the people who have the closest relation to you. Your children are first in line, along with your spouse if you are married at the time of your death. Otherwise, it’s your closest relatives. For example, say you die intestate without a spouse, children, or parents. Your next of kin could be your much younger half-sister or a cousin you’ve never met. Whoever fits the “closest living relative(s)” criteria will inherit everything after the estate pays your debts and taxes.
     
  2. That son- or daughter-in-law you don’t like will get your property before that niece or nephew you do like. Marital property owned by your children is governed by the laws of the states they live in, not you. If they live in a communal property state, they’re sharing the inheritance, 50/50. While the laws are different in every state, property acquired during marriage by either spouse may be marital property, especially if used for the benefit of both spouses. 
     
  3. A little bit of money up for grabs can have a cooling effect on interfamilial relationships. In a perfect world, family members would all get along, never be jealous, and always do right by each other. This isn’t a perfect world. Intestacy law doesn’t take into account the relationships the deceased had with anyone or what the deceased orally promised to someone. Even if widowed Uncle Bob told you he wanted you to have his ’65 Thunderbird, without a will, the car is going to his son…who doesn’t even have a driver’s license. When families start fighting over estates, lawyers get a lot of money and the family gets a lot of heartache, so it’s best to put your wishes in writing so everyone knows what is expected in advance and the Court has authority to enforce your wishes.

If you’ve recently lost a loved one who did not have a will and you have questions about the administration of their estate, you should speak to a probate attorney for guidance.  If you need assistance, we invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation.

Elder Law Concerns: How to Hire a Home Healthcare Provider in Middle Tennessee

Elder Law Concerns: How to Hire a Home Healthcare Provider in Middle Tennessee

Many of our Nashville elder law clients wish to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. With the advances in medications, treatments, and home healthcare options, this wish can be granted more and more frequently. Whether you are looking for a home healthcare provider in Middle Tennessee for yourself or a loved one, here are some great guidelines to follow:

  1. Determine the level of care that will be needed. This is going to affect many of your other decisions. For example, are you or your loved one dealing with a specific ailment?  If so, it may be preferable to choose a provider or agency with experience in that field. Additionally, do you need round-the-clock care, someone to come a few hours a day, or something else entirely?  There are even adult day programs that can provide an outlet for social activities and certain therapies, and these can be used on their own or in conjunction with a home healthcare provider. You may wish to ask your elder lawyer for a list of possible facilities in the greater Nashville area or you can access statewide resources on the Tennessee Department of Human Services website.

2. Understand the difference between Home Healthcare and In-Home Care. Home healthcare is provided to those recovering from surgery or hospitalization, or those needing continuous medical care. These services include skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and administration of medication. In-home care on the other hand provides ongoing non-medical assistance following illness or surgery or for chronic disease or disability.

3. Decide if you want to hire someone on your own or if you want to go through an agency. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. If you choose to do it on your own, you will likely have more say in who will be providing the direct care, as well as what services he or she will provide, but you will be responsible for handling payroll and taxes. On the other hand, an agency will be able to screen applicants thoroughly and can handle payroll and other paperwork for you.

4. Ascertain how you will pay for the home healthcare services. An experienced elder attorney can point you toward a variety of resources, depending upon what your needs are. You or your loved one may have long-term care insurance set up for just this situation, or you may be looking to Medicare, Veterans Administration, and/or Medicaid to assist with the costs. Medicare will only pay for home healthcare, but not in-home care.

Choosing a home healthcare provider in Middle Tennessee is a big job. Breaking it down into more manageable objectives can help keep you moving forward without getting too bogged down over what to do next. At any point in the process, an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney in the Nashville area will be able to offer practical advice and suggestions.


How to Avoid the Need for a Probate Lawyer in Nashville

Probate word made of square letter word on grey background.

If you are dealing with an estate that has to go through the probate process in Tennessee, your smartest move is going to be to work with a probate lawyer in Nashville.  There are cases where very simple estates will move through fairly easily, but there is still a matter of paperwork, accounting, etc. to consider; and a probate lawyer can save you an incredible amount of time and hassle.  

The best way to avoid the need for a probate lawyer in Nashville is to make sure that your estate planning has been done in advance.  This means that you’ve set up wills, trusts, and any other applicable legal documents so that those you leave behind won’t have to deal with taking the entire estate through the court system.  Trusts, such as a revocable living trust, are one of the most common tools for avoiding probate, but there are some other possible options. 

Small Estates 

Some people think that having a will means that your estate will bypass the process.  However, any reputable probate lawyer in Nashville will tell you that this isn’t the case.  Having a will is certainly still important, as it provides important directions for the passing of your estate, but it doesn’t get your heirs off the hook when it comes to probate. 

If the estate is truly a “small” one, then you may be able to avoid probate.  This can happen in cases where the only thing left behind is personal property.  In these situations, there is no true estate to be inherited.  The laws regarding the allowable value of an estate to be considered in this group do change, so it might be helpful to at least chat with a Nashville probate lawyer to see if the estate qualifies.  If so, the heir may be able to create an affidavit that will work instead of going through probate.  There are also some simplified court procedures available to heirs of these very small estates. 

Payable-on-Death Accounts

Many banks and other financial institutions allow for accounts to be transferred after death without going through probate.  It’s a good idea to discuss your inheritance plan with a Nashville probate lawyer or estate planning attorney to ensure that this is a good option for you. This kind of planning has to be done in advance and should take your entire estate plan into account.  

These are just a couple of tools available to those who want to avoid the eventual need for a probate lawyer.  If they have not been put into place, or you’re not sure if these rules apply to you, we invite you to schedule a free call with us to see how we can help.  


Including Your Service Providers In Your Estate Plan | Davidson County Will and Trust Lawyer

Davidson County will and trust lawyer

A  Davidson County will and trust lawyer’s job is to make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row so that if you become incapacitated or die, your loved ones will know how to manage your estate and follow your wishes.  Laws in Tennessee vary from those found around the country, which is why you want to work with an attorney who is skilled in understanding your specific needs.  One area that should be considered is your service providers. 

“Service providers” covers a wide range of individuals involved in your life.  Should you be unable to communicate with them, you want to ensure that your trustee, executor, conservator, or other responsible person is able to communicate with them on your behalf.  Having them all listed in one place will make this job much more manageable. 

Household Providers 

This list should include all of the people or companies that you deal with when it comes to the maintenance of your home.  In some cases, your home will need to continue to function in your absence, and your representative will need to be able to contact these people to make sure things keep running smoothly.  In other cases, whether you are deceased or incapacitated, there are certain services that you may no longer need, and the person in charge needs to be able to contact the service providers and cancel with them. 

Some examples of household providers that you will want to list might include: 

  • Computer support 
  • Food or water delivery 
  • Gardening 
  • Pet care
  • Housekeepers 
  • Heating/Cooling system maintenance 
  • Heating oil delivery 
  • House sitters 
  • Pest control 
  • Pool or spa maintenance 
  • Utilities 
  • Vehicle maintenance 

Basically, anything that you have performed on a regular basis should be noted, along with contact and payment information. 

Medical Service Providers 

You should also provide your representative with contacts for your medical service providers.  This information could be very valuable should you need medical attention but be unable to reach out to these providers on your own.  Additionally, if you have standing appointments with these providers, it will be helpful to have them canceled so you don’t accrue charges for services you’re not using. 

Some of the medical service providers you may want to include on your list are: 

  • Chiropractor 
  • Counselor 
  • Dentist 
  • Massage therapist 
  • Ophthalmologist 
  • Physical therapist 
  • Primary care physician 
  • Psychiatrist 
  • Specialists 

Personal Service Providers

There are other types of regular services that you may use, and you’ll want to include these as well for the same reasons already mentioned.  Some personal service providers to keep in mind for inclusion: 

  • Childcare provider 
  • Hairdresser 
  • Home care provider 
  • Meal preparation 
  • Transportation 
  • Tutors 

Additional Information 

Along with the contact information for these service providers, it’s a good idea to make notes about when they are expected, and you may even want to include service agreements and contracts.  For example, if you have a standing arrangement to have your sprinkler system blown out each fall, make a note of that. 

Your estate planning attorney may not include all of this information directly in your estate plan, but they will want to be able to assist your family of where it can be located when the need arises. 

If you are seeking estate planning services, please book a call with our office here .