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Attorney Randy Ratliff


Estate Planning Lawyer for Nashville Area Residents

As much as we would prefer to avoid the subject, the simple fact is that each of us has only a finite number of years in which to live. It is equally true that none of know exactly how many years that is. We may think we have many productive and successful years ahead of us (and hopefully we do), but this is not guaranteed. Taking steps now, rather than in the uncertain years to come, to put our affairs in order can alleviate many potential problems later on, allowing us to have peace of mind and saving our loved ones untold hardship should the worst happen. An experienced Nashville estate planning attorney at the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, can help you determine how to begin this process and formally document your wishes. We are in the business of helping those in and around Davison and Williamson County use the most effective, up-to-date estate planning tools, including many different types of trusts, to set their affairs in order and provide for their loved ones.

Trusts as Estate Planning Tools

While most people are familiar with traditional estate planning methods such as the drafting and signing of a last will and testament, there are many other types of documents, some of which are called “trusts,” which can help a particular person or couple achieve certain goals. While the idea of a trust is fairly simple – a trust is merely a fiduciary arrangement wherein one person (the trustor) puts property into the hands of a trustee for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries – it is very important that the drafting of a particular trust document be left to competent professionals who stay abreast of all the latest developments in this area of the law. One reason for this is that many trusts are specifically designed to take advantage of federal or state laws concerning taxation and/or qualification for benefits under one or more government programs. These laws can be very complex, and they change fairly often.

Different Kinds of Trusts Under Tennessee Law

Under Tennessee statutory law, a trust may be created in four basic ways: by overtly transferring property to another person as trustee either during the settlor's lifetime or by disposition taking effect upon the settlor's death (such as through a will); by the owner of a piece of property declaring that he or she holds the property as trustee; through the power of appointment in favor of a trustee; or by a court under its equitable or statutory powers (sometimes in the form of a “resulting trust”). Trusts that are effective during a trustor’s lifetime are sometimes called “living trusts” or “inter vivos” trusts. Trusts that are not effective until after the trustor has passed away are called “testamentary trusts.”

There are several reasons that Tennessee residents may prefer to use a trust either instead of, or in addition to, a will as part of his or her estate plan, and a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer can help you determine which of these tools may be appropriate for you. Trusts can help a family avoid the sometimes lengthy and expensive process of probating a will, and, in most situations, are not considered “public record” in the way that a will would be. Trusts can also be used to take advantage of certain tax laws, particularly those of the Internal Revenue Service. They can also effectuate a change in the ownership of property in a private manner (unlike a deed, which is usually recorded at the courthouse). Trusts can also allow a testator to make provisions aimed at the care of a beneficiary who is unable to appropriately handle financial matters, whether due to youth, disability, or a spendthrift nature. In some cases, the use of a trust can even help someone qualify for government benefits (such as TennCare) to which they otherwise may not be entitled.

Talk to an Experienced Nashville Attorney Regarding Your Estate Plan

If you think that a trust might be a good option for your estate plan, contact a lawyer who regularly drafts such matters so that you can learn more. At the Randy Ratliff Law Offices, PLLC, we help those in Nashville, Hermitage, Madison, Antioch, Joelton, Franklin, Goodlettsville, Brentwood, and Cool Springs with a full range of estate planning options, including trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and other applicable documents. For an appointment, call us at 615-656-8282.