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Attorney Randy Ratliff

Pour-Over Wills

Estate Planning Attorney for Nashville Area Residents

There are numerous estate planning tools available to those who are ready to make provisions for the disposition of their property at death. Trusts – both revocable and irrevocable – are very popular options, especially for those who wish to avoid the probate process. Trusts can also provide a modicum of privacy that more traditional estate planning tools, such as a typical last will and testament, may not (probate records are public records in most cases). However, as useful and powerful as a trust may be, it is often advisable that the trustor have what is called a “pour-over will” that applies to any assets not covered by the trust. A skilled Nashville estate planning lawyer at the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, can help you decide whether a pour-over will should be part of your estate plan.

No longer are we living in a one-size-fits-all world when it comes to the task of estate planning. While there are some individuals and couples for whom a traditional will may be the best solution, there are many different kinds of trusts that can help accomplish a myriad of goals. Some trusts are aimed at helping those of considerable means minimize the effects of taxation while maintaining some control over their hard-earned assets, while other trusts are designed to assist those of more modest means in their attempt to qualify for certain government programs or set aside funds for a family member with special needs. Some individuals may set up multiple trusts, each with a particular purpose in mind. In some cases, all of a person’s assets go into one or more trusts. However, sometimes there are assets that are not part of the trust(s). This may be intentional, but it may also be accidental. Working with an experienced will and trust attorney can help you account for these possibilities.

How Tennessee Law Deals With Non-Trust Assets

Assuming that a person dies without a will, the laws of intestate succession govern the disposition of any property that is not subject to a trust or a “pay on death” provision (such as a bank account, assuming that the proper paperwork is completed in order to allow the bank to pay out any remaining funds to the owner’s designee at his or her death). Generally speaking, the laws of intestacy designate the deceased surviving spouse and/or children as beneficiaries, although the shares that each will receive vary according to the particular situation. While this distribution scheme may be close to what the deceased person would have wished in some cases, it very well may not be what he or she would have wanted to happen at all in other cases.

In order to avoid the possibility that one’s non-trust property will be subject to intestate distribution laws, it is often advisable that a pour-over will be executed. While still subject to the requirements of probate (as well as the general requirements that define the validity of a will), a pour-over trust can provide the security of knowing that there is a backup plan in place that will allow any stray assets to be put into a trust upon the testator or testatrix’s death. Such a document can be particularly useful in the event that a person who has placed most of his or her assets into a trust neglected to place a certain asset into the trust or acquired additional non-trust property prior to death.

Discuss Your Estate Plan With a Nashville Lawyer

At the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, we are here to help those in Davidson and Williamson Counties with a variety of estate planning needs, including the drafting of trusts and pour-over wills, as well as other estate planning documents. We also provide legal representation in probate cases and trust administration matters. If you live in Nashville, Antioch, Madison, Goodlettsville, Hermitage, Joelton, Brentwood, Franklin, or Cool Springs and have questions about the estate planning options available to you, call us at 615-656-8282 or contact us online and set up an appointment with an attorney to come in and learn more. Our office also handles family law and elder law cases.