Tag Archives: will

Probate and Trust Bill Headed for Haslam’s Desk

Update: Read Public Chapter No. 290 here.

SA0426 which revises a number of areas of the Wills, Trusts and Probate statutes has cleared the Tennessee Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk.  This bill updates law in the following areas:

Divorced? It is time to update…

soapboxLet me guess.  The last person you want to see after a divorce is me, another dad-gum lawyer.  I don’t blame you.

However, before you say that, know this: your designated beneficiary did not change just because you got a divorce.  Here I am referring to life insurance, retirement accounts such as 401(k)’s and IRAs, and anything that allows you to name a beneficiary.  If you did not change your beneficiaries after you got a divorce, then your ex-spouse probably gets everything if something happens to you.

In both Arkansas and Tennessee, provisions to an ex-spouse are revoked.  This is not the case in Mississippi.  In Mississippi, the provisions for the ex-spouse remain and he or she takes whatever you may have left them—perhaps everything.

No matter where you live, it is still time to revise your Will.  Had a knowledgeable probate judge not been on the bench when Lorenzen Wright’s ex-spouse walked into probate court with his Will that left her everything, she might have been appointed in control of his estate.  In fact, she tried.  Order opening estate of Lorenzen Wright

Now you’re thinking (perhaps cynically)—there’s nothing left to get. Ok. Even if that’s true now, that may not be true five or ten years from now.

When will you update if not now?

Its time for an update.

Stay Tuned.

Rob Malin

Estate Planning Part 1: How assets pass at death.

How better to begin my blog than to discuss the basics of how assets pass at death?

The way assets pass at death can be swept into four categories:

  1. Survivorship.  Assets held as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship (known as Tenancy by the Entirety when the property owners are husband and wife) pass to the survivor automatically. Common assets held as survivorship property include a home owned by spouses and bank accounts.
  2. Beneficiary Designation.  Assets with a beneficiary designation pass upon the death of the owner to the named beneficiary.  This includes life insurance, annuities, certificates of deposit, retirement accounts (IRAs, 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s, and etc.) and any number of other types of assets.  Sometimes beneficiary designations are called “TOD” or “POD.”
  3. Trust.  This is ripe for the next blog entry and I do not wish to steal my own thunder, but basically a trust is a vehicle for managing assets.  The Trustee is the “manager.”  The beneficiary is the person who gets the benefit of the trust assets.  Anyway, assets held in trust pass according to the terms of the trust.
  4. Sole name.  The fourth and final way that assets pass at death are assets that are in your sole name, without a beneficiary designation, and without a joint owner (no survivorship aspect).  These are the only assets that pass through probate and controlled by a Will.  One caveat: assets paid by beneficiary designation to your estate (or without a valid beneficiary designation) or your executor or to a trustee named in your Will will be controlled by your Will.

Did you notice that there are not that many types of assets that pass through your Will?

More to come.  Stay tuned.

Rob Malin