Tag: Living Will


When a client meets with me about Estate Planning, after some discussion, I usually find that they need the following documents for proper estate planning; a Will, a Financial Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will.

These are the documents that I have had prepared for myself. These are the Estate Planning documents I haveprepared for numerous friends and family members.

Do you need a Trust? Do you need a complicated Will?

Usually not, but it all depends on the value of your estate. If your estate is worth more than one million dollars then we will discuss more complex estate planning opportunities that will further protect your estate for your heirs.  But for most families, the aforementioned documents take care of all their needs and insure when they become ill or pass away, their estates are properly handled. 

A Last Will & Testament is a legal document we all need. In the state of Tennessee, if you don’t have a Will, the law establishes who will receive your estate. And you may not like who gets everything you worked so hard to accumulate. Take charge of who gets what, when and under what circumstances in your Will.

A Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney is a much needed document. Usually, if you are married your spouse will be able handle your financial affairs when you can’t. However, if your spouse can’t do it, then who will? You can determine that person by having a Durable Power of Attorney prepared.

Of the utmost importance is your Health Care Power of Attorney. Who is able to make health care decisions on your behalf? Who do you trust to make the right decisions? You can make those decisions now by having a Health Care Power of Attorney prepared.

And finally, everyone needs a Living Will. Each of us has their own ideas about how they want to live during the end-stages of life. Make those decisions now in legal documents that your doctor and family will be required to abide by.

Estate Planning does not have to be complicated or expensive. However, by not taking care of these legal matters on the front end, you can often cause your family to spend much more money later, trying to take care of these matters for you.

For instance, a simple Health Care Power of Attorney can cost id=”mce_marker”00.00. However, should you fail to have this document prepared and then require medical care that you can not consent to, your family will be forced to hire an attorney to file a Petition for Conservatorship. The Court will require a hearing to determine who can make health care decisions for you. Affidavits from doctors will be required and often a Guardian Ad Litem will also be appointed. Conservatorships can cost a family a few thousand dollars.

A Health Care Power of Atttorney would have avoided all of this.      

Last Will & Testament, Living Will, Power of Attorney



 I answer these questions everyday by telling my Tennessee clients what I did with my Last Will & Testament.  

My Last Will & Testament, along with my Powers of Attorney and my Living Will, are  in my desk drawer, in my office.

They are not under lock and key. And I have told many people where they are located.

They are not recorded at the Wilson County Register’s Office and I have not given a copy of them to anybody.

I find, that most people, however, place their Last Will and Testament and other important legal documents in lock boxes or safety deposit boxes at their local bank. Problem is, if you pass away, your family may not be able to gain access to those areas without Court Orders.

It can be a huge problem and sometimes a costly problem. As an attorney, I am required, at least at first, to present an Original Will to the Judge. If the family can not get their hands on the original Will, we have a problem even before the probate process starts.

For that reason – my advice is to keep the Original Will in an easy to find, accessible location.

If you are concerned that someone will find your Will and be upset by it or worst yet, destroy it, then we can discuss other options.

For the rest of us, though, keep it simple. 

Another question I am asked is – who should you give copies of the Will to.

We will make you as many copies as you need. However, giving out too many copies causes a problem should you ever change your Will; because, in some cases, copies of old Wills have been brought to court in the hopes of having them probated.

I recently represented a person in a case like this. Heirs in an old Will attempted to probate a copy of the decedent’s former Will. My client (the rightful heir) was successful at both the trial level and appellate level, however, had the decedent not given out so many copies of the previous Will, this protracted litigation may have been avoided.

Last Will & Testament, Living Will, Powers of Attorney, Safe Keeping of a Will

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