Larry Bray was recently interviewed by Brentwood Lifestyle magazine about important estate planning components. Read the full interview online here: https://citylifestyle.com/nashville-tn/articles/finance-and-legal-services/get-life-in-order
Larry Bray was recently interviewed by Brentwood Lifestyle magazine about important estate planning components. Read the full interview online here: https://citylifestyle.com/nashville-tn/articles/finance-and-legal-services/get-life-in-order
Loved ones are fighting a prolonged court battle after the former Zappos.com Inc. CEO, Tony Hsieh, joined a long list of prominent celebrities who died without leaving a Will. As when Prince died without a Will, the court has said the CEO died intestate, the legal term used when someone died without a Will. But courts can still determine that you died intestate even if you tried to draft your own Will.
We see many cases involving individuals who thought “drafting my own contract” or “drafting my own Will” sounded like a good plan. There are many reasons you may want to draft your own contracts or create your own Will. It can be a desire to maintain privacy and control, save money on attorney fees, or simply thinking you don’t have enough assets to justify the costs. Unfortunately, he pitfalls of drafting your own contracts or drafting your own Will are numerous.
Do it yourself legal documents come with a cost. Avoid the dangers of do it yourself legal documents by checking out our team at Patterson Bray for your small business or estate planning needs. Please call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here. We have offices in Memphis and Nashville TN.
Patterson Bray is pleased to announce that attorneys Lindsay Jones and Will Patterson were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in the 27th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©.
Lindsay Jones was recognized for her high caliber of work in the practice areas of Trusts and Estates and Litigation- Trusts and Estates.
Will Patterson was recognized for his high caliber of work in the practice area of Commercial Litigation.
For more than three decades, Best Lawyers has been regarded – by both lawyers and the public – as the most credible measure of legal integrity and distinction in the United States. As such, Lindsay and Will’s recognition by Best Lawyers symbolizes excellence in practice.
Inclusion in Best Lawyers is based on a rigorous peer-review survey comprising more than 9.4 million confidential evaluations by top attorneys. Best Lawyers’ founding principle remains unchanged and forms the basis of their methodology: The best lawyers know who the best lawyers are, and attorneys do not pay to participate or be recognized. Best Lawyers lists are published in top-tier business and legal publications such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
For more information, check out the Best Lawyers website.
It can be difficult to know exactly how to construct an estate plan that will protect your family and keep your family from potentially destructive in-fighting. Thankfully, you do not have to determine the best ways to move forward alone. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you decide which legal and financial tools will most directly benefit you, your family, your assets and your family’s future. And if you are concerned about the possibility of family in-fighting over your estate, your estate planning attorney will likely have one primary suggestion for you: consider setting up a trust.
Trusts and Probate: The Basics
When individuals pass away without first constructing legally enforceable estate plans, their assets pass through a legal process known as probate. The probate process essentially distributes the assets of a deceased person in accordance with the state’s estate-related regulations. This seems like a harsh way to deal with a lifetime’s worth of sentimental and potentially financially valuable property. But absent clear directions about how an estate should be managed, this process is really the only alternative the state can employ that is as broadly “fair” as possible.
One of the reasons why trusts are such an attractive legal and financial tool is that they are not subject to the probate process. They are constructed in such a way that the state cannot generally question how they should be managed. As a result, there can be little reason for in-fighting among loved ones overwhelmed by the process of probate – because there is no stress of probate associated with the management of trusts.
In addition to the benefit of avoiding probate, assets governed by trusts generally benefit from a level of privacy and control not possible when property is passed along by a simple will. For all these reasons and more, it may benefit you and your family to discuss the idea of creating a trust when you next speak with your estate planning attorney.
Estate Planning Guidance Is Available
If you have questions about trusts, probate or estate planning generally, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney at your earliest convenience. Planning ahead for how your estate will be managed once you are gone can be an intimidating process. It is not easy to think about a time when you will not be able to provide for your loved ones in the ways you do now. However, by planning ahead and helping to ensure that your wishes are clearly stated, properly constructed and legally enforceable, you will save your loved ones from a great deal of stress after you are gone. And depending upon your financial circumstances, the ways in which you prepare your estate now may help to ensure that your loved ones are provided for long into the future.
Please consider scheduling a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney today. None of us knows when our estate plans will become truly urgent business. And while it is not easy to begin the process of estate planning, working with experienced Memphis probate and estate administration lawyers will help to ensure that it is an effective and successful process in the end.
Contact Patterson Bray for their insight into estate planning and the benefits of avoiding probate.
It’s been widely reported that Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, died without any sort of Estate Plan leaving many people wondering: “Why would someone so successful not have a financial plan in place?” We should all pause and THINK about what we’re trying to do with our assets after death.
Unfortunately, it is fairly common for people to die without even the simplest form of an Estate Plan. Even tremendously successful individuals like Prince and Aretha Franklin have made this mistake. While Prince and Aretha Franklin certainly have more complex financial affairs than most of us, Estate Plans are not just for rich people. In fact, a basic plan can be relatively inexpensive, especially when you consider the potential legal fees and costs which arise when there is no plan at all.
Whether we are meeting with potential clients or giving estate planning seminars, we always stress the importance of having an estate plan in place no matter how simple the plan might be. Even a simple Estate Plan gives your family guidance and allows them to R-E-S-P-E-C-T your wishes.
The only way you can be sure to “get what you want” is to properly (and legally) communicate your wishes. Simply telling someone won’t cut it. After all, neither a judge nor your family will be able to ask you after your death. Having a plan in place can also help prevent family fights. You may think your family would never fight over your assets after you die. You may be right, but you may also be wrong. There’s no good reason to take a chance. Make your wishes so clear that your family members have nothing to fight about after your death.
An Estate Plan is important irrespective of your financial situation. You do not have to be rich or famous to need a Will. Even if you think you don’t have enough assets to justify an Estate Plan, it is likely that your possessions have real meaning to family members or friends.
Typically, people put off planning because they are “too busy” or they simply do not want to think about their own mortality. Death can be an unpleasant topic. It is obviously an uncertain event which makes it is easy to put off and left for another today. However, death is an unfortunate reality for everyone. As such, we should all learn a lesson from Aretha Franklin’s mistake and plan ahead.
If you don’t have an Estate Plan or Will, your Estate may become subject to state law and Probate Court orders. This is likely to lead to family arguments and legal fees and costs, which in the end reduces the amount of assets remaining for your family members.
We work hard to make setting up your Estate Plan as easy as possible. Basic plans can be relatively inexpensive even though they are drafted with your specific needs and concerns in mind. If you do not have an Estate Plan or have not had your plan reviewed in a number of years, you need an Estate Planning lawyer Memphis trusts to guide you through the process.
Call Patterson Bray at 901-372-5003.
One of the key benefits of Family Entities over the last several years has been the opportunity for significant valuation discounts for estate and gift tax purposes for clients with taxable estates. Last year, we advised in our Estate Planning Newsletter that we expected the IRS to issue regulations limiting or eliminating the use of valuation discounts for family owned or controlled entities. Earlier this month, the IRS finally issued those proposed regulations. The regulations are set to virtually eliminate the use of family entity valuation discounts as an estate planning tool.
However, there is still time to take advantage of valuation discounts. But, you need to act now.
A Family Entity is exactly as it sounds — a company (limited liability company, corporation or partnership) that is owned and controlled by the organizer and the members of his or her family.
Traditionally, ownership interests of a Family Entity have been valued at a reduced or discounted value. The basis for the discount is lack of control, lack of marketability, and other factors that result from the entity structure. An ownership interest in a Family Entity is often valued at 20%-40% less than the actual fair market value of the underlying asset. This means that you could transfer an asset to a Family Entity and then later transfer your ownership interest in the Family Entity (either through lifetime gifting or at death) at a value significantly less than the fair market value of the underlying asset.
The use of family entities to obtain valuation discounts is a well-tested Estate Planning tool. Other methods of Estate Tax Planning often do not provide the same benefits. Because this method of estate and tax planning has proven so effective, it is imperative that clients with potentially taxable estates take advantage of Family Entity Valuation Discounts before the new IRS regulations take effect.
Entities created and funded prior to the enactment of the new IRS regulations will be governed by the current (more favorable) rules. But, there is very little time left to take advantage of Valuation Discounts. While it is not yet clear exactly when the new regulations will become final, many Estate Planning Attorneys believe they could become effective as soon as December 1, 2016. No one can be certain of the date, which is why you should act now.
Chances are, if you are reading this Blog Post, you own Digital Assets and have one or more online accounts. As Estate Planning Lawyers, we continue to see changes in the law to address our increasingly tech-savvy culture. The use of electronic information has continued to play a larger role in the Estate Planning and Administration we do for our clients.
Have you ever thought about what might happen to your Facebook account if you died? Who would get your iTunes library and how would they access it?
The Tennessee legislature recently passed the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (the “Act”), which became effective July 1, 2016. The intent of the Act is to aid in a Fiduciary’s ability to access an individual’s Digital Assets. A Fiduciary is someone either appointed by a person or a Probate Court Court to act on behalf of the person in the event of incapacity or death. A fiduciary may be appointed by a person in a Power of Attorney or Last Will and Testament, or by a Court in a guardianship, conservatorship, or intestate estate proceeding. The Act also attempts to protect a person’s privacy, as it also allows the person to restrict a fiduciary’s access to digital assets, and provides additional safeguards by allowing the Custodian of the asset to request certain documentation before providing requested information. A fiduciary granted access to digital assets is held to a fiduciary standard under the Act, requiring the fiduciary to act in the best interests of the person with a duty of care, loyalty and confidentiality.
The Act defines Digital Assets as “an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest,” and this “does not include an underlying asset or liability unless the asset or liability is itself an electronic record.” The Act does not necessarily grant the fiduciary access to a person’s cell phone, computer, tablet, etc., but this class of assets includes a wide variety of items, including:
The Act lays out specific requirements as to how the fiduciary must go about requesting access to the digital assets depending on the nature of the fiduciary representation, the type of document (if any) granting the fiduciary the authority to access digital assets, and the depth of the information needed by the fiduciary.
Granting a fiduciary the authority to access your digital assets (or limiting their access) should be done with specificity. You can and should address these issues in your Last Will and Testament and Power of Attorney. You should also make sure that any usernames, passwords, and account numbers for your digital assets and online accounts are in a safe place so that your fiduciary can get this information and provide it if requested by a custodian (such as the bank, Facebook, etc.).
If you are concerned about your appointed fiduciary’s current potential access to your digital assets, you should consult with an attorney experienced in fiduciary matters, who can review the relevant documents and properly advise you about your specific situation.
If you are currently in a fiduciary position and you need to obtain access to that person’s digital assets or records or online accounts, please be sure to consult with an estate planning attorney to find out how you should go about obtaining this information/access, because the procedures can differ based on your fiduciary role, the powers you have been granted, and the type of information you are trying to obtain.
Our Estate Planning Attorneys can help develop a digital assets plan to best suit your individual needs. Visit our website to learn more about our work and call us today at 901-372-5003.
Our law firm has worked on a couple of cases lately involving joint property ownership; that is, property owned by a group of several individuals. Owning a piece of land or real estate with a group of individuals or family members can lead to many problems, a few of which we will discuss here.
In Tennessee, real property typically passes outside of Probate in accordance with the publicly recorded property documents in the County where the property is located. A person can also plan for the disposition of real property in a Will or Trust. If you die owning real property in your sole name, though, it can cause significant problems for your Beneficiaries that can be avoided by proper planning.
In both cases I mentioned above, the group of individuals came into joint property ownership because of intestate succession (i.e., dying without a Will). You may think that you do not need a Will because your property will pass to your heirs regardless. However, there are many problems and burdens that your heirs will face if property passes to them through intestate succession. Here’s what can happen if a landowner dies without a Will:
When a piece of property passes through intestate succession, when ownership is unclear, or when a piece of property is owned by a large group of individuals, there will be extra expense involved when the property is sold. As a general matter, the entire sales process will take longer than usual. Each separate legal owner must be found and consulted with. Then, each owner must agree to all parts of the sale process (i.e. negotiating the price, negotiating and completing repairs, and signing all required paperwork). It can be very difficult getting a group of family members or individuals to all cooperate and agree during the course of a real estate transaction.
Inherited owners who want to sell property can expect to have to do some additional work with the buyer’s title company such as filing probate documents, getting releases from TennCare, and dealing with potential creditors of the deceased person. A title company may require proceeds to be escrowed for up to a year after the deceased person’s death.
Inherited and multiple owners can also come with their own personal problems. A judgment lien or a bankruptcy filing of one inherited owner will immediately attach to the inherited property, which could cause delays and problems for any co-owners wishing to sell the property.
If you must own property with a group of individuals or family members, or if you desire to pass property to a group of people, there are ways you can accomplish joint property ownership which lessen the burden and expense involved. Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney or Property Lawyer about the best way to achieve your personal goals. For example, more effective “joint ownership” can be achieved in the following ways:
Tennessee does not offer this, but some states allow the use of a Beneficiary Deed to clarify how a property is to pass upon the owner’s death. Essentially, a Beneficiary Deed lets a person name a beneficiary and only takes effect upon the death of the owner. Ask your Estate Planning Attorney about the availability of Beneficiary Deeds if you own property in multiple states.
If you are tied up in joint property ownership, or if you own a piece of property with a group of individuals or family members and you want to end the relationship and go your separate way, you can. In Tennessee, you have the legal right to what is called “partition.” Speak with a civil litigation attorney about filing a partition lawsuit. In this kind of lawsuit, you ask the judge to partition the property, either “in kind” or “by sale.”
Have questions about joint property ownership or other real estate issues? Please call us at 901-372-5003 or send Patterson Bray an email.
It’s been widely reported that Prince probably died without a Will. This has left many people wondering:
How could someone rich and famous like Prince die without a Will?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people, even the super-wealthy, to to die without even the simplest form of an Estate Plan. While at least one source reports that Prince’s Estate may be worth less than what people think, this surprising omission of someone of Prince’s celebrity status should give us all cause to stop and think about what might happen to our own families and hard-earned assets in the event of an untimely death.
When we meet with potential clients and give basic estate planning seminars, we stress the importance of having, at the very least, a basic estate plan in place. This is important because:
1. Your wishes will be known. Have you ever tried to guess what another person wants? This is why many of us find Christmas shopping very stressful. The only way you can be sure to “get what you want” is to properly (and legally) communicate your wishes and desires. Just telling someone won’t cut it. After all, neither a judge nor your family will be able to ask you after your death.
2. You can help prevent family feuds and division. You may think your family is so tightknit that they would never quarrel over your assets after you die. You may be right, but you may also be wrong. Why take the chance? Make your wishes so clear that your family members have nothing to fight about amongst themselves after your death.
An Estate Plan is important regardless of your financial status. You do not have to be “rich” to need a Will. Even if you think you don’t have enough assets to justify planning ahead, it is likely that your possessions have real meaning to family members or friends. It is also likely that you have a larger Estate than you may realize.
1. Fear of Losing or Giving up Control. Like Prince, many people like to retain complete control over their assets and business affairs. There’s not a thing in the world wrong with this. However, having an Estate Plan does not mean that you lose control! In fact, Estate Planning is a way to extend the control over your affairs “beyond the grave.”
2. Death is an Unpleasant and Uncertain Event. People often put off any planning or do not want to think about their passing. It is easy to procrastinate and it always seems like planning can be left for another today. However, death is an unfortunate reality for us all. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
If you don’t have an Estate Plan or Will, in Memphis and Nashville Tennessee, your Estate, like Prince’s, may become subject to state law and Probate Court orders. This is likely to lead to familial dissension and excessive fees and costs for the Estate, which in the end reduces the amount of assets remaining for your Beneficiaries. Your money may also wind up going to the Government! For example, in Prince’s case, the Probate Court has appointed a Corporate Executor for his Estate, and many attorneys will be involved because of the number of potential Beneficiaries. There will be many questions as to how the royalties and future earnings from Prince’s music will be handled. Estate taxes will have to be paid. All of these factors will lead to a lot of money being spent (and some might even say “wasted”). All of the headaches and money spent, as well as the publicity involved, could have been avoided, or at least minimized, if Prince had planned ahead by having a Will or Estate Plan.
Don’t be like Prince. Plan ahead now! Having an Estate Plan is easy, and every person can and should have one in place. A basic plan can be relatively inexpensive, even if drafted by a licensed Tennessee estate planning attorney, like the ones at Patterson Bray. We have offices in Memphis and Nashville. In Tennessee, and some other states, it is also possible, although often not recommended, for a handwritten Will to be valid. To read our blog post about handwritten wills, CLICK HERE.
Call Patterson Bray if you’re in the Memphis or Nashville area at 901-372-5003 or email us here.
A popular asset protection tool we use at Patterson Bray is the Wyoming Close Limited Liability Company. One or more people can establish and own this type of entity and may also manage the LLC.
Anyone can establish a Wyoming Close LLC, even if you do not live in Wyoming or conduct your business there.
Protection from Lawsuits
Under current law, assets inside a Wyoming Close LLC are protected from “outside” lawsuits and creditors, such as those resulting from a car accident or malpractice action. In a few states, like Wyoming, the sole remedy for a creditor of an LLC member against that member’s LLC interest is a “charging order.” A charging order only allows the creditor access to the debtor’s LLC interest to the extent distributions are made to the member.
Estate and Gift Tax Benefits
Under current law, the value of a membership interest in a Wyoming Close LLC may be subject to valuation discounts for estate and gift tax purposes. We anticipate in the future that the IRS will institute regulations limiting tax benefits.
Separation of “Hot” and “Cool” Assets
A “hot” asset is something like a rental property. A “cool” asset is something like a brokerage account. Separate LLCs should be formed to keep “hot” and “cool” assets separate. “Cool” assets should be isolated from “hot” assets because any “inside” lawsuits, such as those resulting from accidents occurring on property inside the LLC, will subject “cool” assets to claims of creditors of the “hot” assets.
Is a Wyoming Close LLC right for you?
If you have questions about whether a Wyoming Close LLC might be right for you, or if you’re curious about other forms of asset protection and business organizations, please call us at 901-372-5003 or email us here. We will examine your personal situation and work to develop the asset protection strategy that is right for you.