Last week, Governor Haslam signed several new bills into law. I previously blogged about a bill which updated a number of areas of Trust and Probate law here which has been signed by the Governor.
Three other bills have been signed by the Governor which update several other areas of probate law. Two of these change the amount from $10,000 to $15,000 that may be paid out without probate by a credit union and bank, respectively.
The third act updates accounting procedures in Tennessee probate estates. My reading of third act is to eliminate a court’s discretion to require an accounting if the Will waives it. Instead, a status report detailing issues to be completed before the estate can be closed will be due within fifteen months from the opening of the estate. I also read a new TCA 30-2-601(b)(2) to allow the personal representative to be able to close an estate without an accounting even if all receipts have not been received. In such event, the personal representative would give notice to the beneficiary who has failed to give a receipt. If the beneficiary no-shows at the hearing to close the estate (or appears, but does not participate), the “[f]ailure of a non-compliant distributee to appear and or participate in the hearing shall result in a final order closing the estate.” [emphasis added].
There are also new statutory forms for the receipt and waiver.
A copy of the bill as signed by the Governor can be viewed here: Pub. Ch. 0280.
It should be noted that this bill updating probate accounting procedures became law as soon as it was signed by the Governor last week (as opposed to July 1 when most new laws become effective).
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:
Probate… Ugh! Am I right? When discussing probate with clients, I sometimes feel like I’m talking about Memphis to someone back home (I’m from Knoxville). It’s not that bad! I go there on purpose! I like it there! You shouldn’t be afraid of it!
Why Avoid Probate? Although probate is not as bad as you probably think it is, there are still some very good reasons to avoid it:
- Unnecessary Cost. Why pay unnecessarily to accomplish your wishes?
- No Privacy. Your nosey neighbors will know you cut out one of the kids.
- Delays. It simply takes longer to get your stuff to your family.
How to Avoid Probate? So, how do you avoid probate? Methods include: Continue reading How would you like to avoid probate?
Let 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.