At the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, our team of knowledgeable professionals is committed to providing each and every client with a personalized estate plan built for their priorities. Each family and each individual has different estate planning needs, and it may sometimes be difficult to talk about personal matters such as marital status, relationships with children and step-children, and business liability concerns. Based in the Nashville area, experienced estate planning attorney Randy Ratliff wants to make sure that a client understands the available options regarding their estate planning, elder law, family law, business succession, or asset protection matter so that a thoughtful, educated decision may be made. We know that one size does not fit all. That’s why you are in control. We will explain your options and help you formulate a plan that meets your needs and your goals.Wills
In this day and age, it may be tempting to use online resources to draw up one’s own estate plan. However, this is a very risky endeavor. Not only is each person’s situation unique, but also the law of each state has specific provisions that, if not heeded, may render a document void. For example, while Tennessee law recognizes both holographic (handwritten) wills and nuncupative (oral) wills, there are strict requirements and limitations for each of these. A holographic will, for example, must be completely in the handwriting of the testator (the person making the will) and must be signed by them. While no witnesses are necessary, the handwriting must be proven in court by two witnesses in order for the will to be probated. A knowledgeable estate planning lawyer can help Nashville residents ensure that their will meets the requirements of Tennessee law so that their family members can avoid the expense and emotional turmoil of litigation after their loved one’s death.Trusts
Trusts are useful estate planning tools that some Tennessee residents may prefer to wills. Among their advantages, they offer a way to transfer property without going through the complex and lengthy probate process, and they often have favorable tax implications. Trusts are also private documents that allow assets to be transferred without becoming a matter of public record, as wills are. A living trust transfers assets prior to an individual’s death, and it can be irrevocable or revocable according to the preference of the trustor. A trustor has the option to make changes to a revocable trust, while an irrevocable trust cannot be altered. Another type of trust is a testamentary trust, which is usually crafted as part of a will for the benefit of the testator’s young children.Advance Health Care Directives
In addition to providing for their loved ones, aging individuals often want to make sure that their wishes regarding medical treatment or other end-of-life concerns are thoroughly preserved and articulated. To meet this goal, Nashville estate planning lawyer Randy Ratliff can help you craft an advance directive, such as a power of attorney or a living will. These documents name a trusted person to make important health care decisions if the person creating the document is unable to do so, such as when there is a question over whether to terminate life support. A power of attorney also may be useful in giving someone the authority to make financial decisions on behalf of a senior citizen when they lack the mental capacity to handle these issues themselves.
It may be tempting to try to handle these issues efficiently through an online resource, but this is a strategy that could prove frustrating and costly for your loved ones in the long term. Online “estate plans” offer a one-size-fits-all approach that does not consider issues such as whether a particular person’s estate plan should include a will, a testamentary trust, an irrevocable living trust, a power of attorney and living will, or a combination of these documents. Online resources also fail to consider issues such as qualification for Medicaid (TennCare), a special needs trust for a disabled child, or tax consequences. Randy Ratliff takes the time to ask the important questions. Working together with your tax professional, he can help ensure that your estate does not pay one dollar more in estate or gift tax than necessary.
We also understand and appreciate clients’ worries about losing their hard-earned assets to the government, a nursing home, a divorce, or a lawsuit. In addition to drafting documents such as wills, trusts, health care directives, and powers of attorney, we can help explain and guide a family through the nuances of Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, long-term care planning, or other government benefit programs. We can also assist people who own a small business with formulating a business succession plan that will suit the needs of the business owner’s family and other stakeholders. Randy Ratliff also can devise an asset protection plan that is designed to shield a business owner’s personal assets from creditors and liability lawsuits.Family Law
We provide representation in family law matters such as divorce or child support proceedings, and we can help prepare documents such as prenuptial agreements. Property division may be contentious during a divorce when both spouses have significant assets. Devising a prenuptial or potentially a postnuptial agreement may help reduce the risk of future uncertainty and conflict by providing that certain assets will be allocated to one spouse or the other. However, it is important to seek legal guidance during this process because prenuptial agreements must meet certain requirements to be enforced by a court.Consult a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Lawyer in Nashville
Thinking about the future may sometimes be difficult. We understand. It is our goal to help each client whom we serve analyze their specific estate planning needs, spot potentially problematic situations, and develop a careful approach to making sure that their wishes are expressed and respected in the future. To get started on protecting your family’s future with a resourceful Nashville estate planning attorney, call the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, at 615-656-8282 or contact us online to set up an appointment. We serve people who need estate planning guidance or an elder law attorney in Hermitage, Madison, Antioch, Goodlettsville, Joelton, Franklin, Brentwood, and Cool Springs, as well as other communities in Davidson and Williamson Counties.