Experienced Memphis Wills Attorney Drafts and Updates Estate Plans
Knowledgeable lawyer serving TN, MS and AR helps you establish a legacy for your heirs
At Parham Estate Law, I offer a full range of services relating to wills, including the drafting, review, amendment, revocation and execution of these vital estate planning documents. Your last will and testament allows you to express your affection and provide for your family’s comfort. I understand that it can feel overwhelming to think about disposing of the property you have accumulated over a lifetime. It can also be difficult to consider how to provide for your children should the unthinkable occur. My Memphis firm helps people in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas create wills that provide peace of mind. I handle estates of all sizes and complexities, creating clear and enforceable instructions that accurately convey my clients’ intentions.
Reasons you need a will
Every adult should have a will. Your will allows you to transfer property on your terms. You can provide material assistance for loved ones and support charitable causes you care about. You can draft a document to suggest a guardian for your minor children, and name a trusted individual to be your executor. I can draft clear, legally sound wills that include instructions regarding:
- Property — Real estate is typically the most valuable property a person or couple owns. Wills can include directions on the distribution of all kinds of property, from homes, automobiles and art to sentimental objects.
- Financial assets — With a will, you can choose how the wealth you possess in bank accounts, stocks, bonds, retirement plans and other holdings should be allocated among your beneficiaries.
- Child guardianship — Along with your will, you can make contingency plans for the care of your minor children. This is especially crucial if you are a single parent, but couples should also consider whom they want to raise their children if both parents pass away. You can also arrange for the care of your pets in your will.
- Executor responsibilities — Your will should include instructions stating who should be in charge of overseeing the distribution of your property in accordance with your wishes.
- Trust for children — If your children are young, aren't good with money, or are experiencing difficulties with their marriage or with creditors, your will can include trust planning to protect your children's inheritance.
Wills are relatively simple to complete and should give you the peace of mind you deserve.
Wills can work with trusts and other estate planning instruments
Even if you choose to disperse your assets through a trust upon your death, completing an enforceable will is important aspect of the estate planning process. There might be assets that are overlooked or not placed into a trust for some other reason. With a “pour-over” will, you could direct that these assets be deposited into a particular trust when you die. If one of your goals is to help your loved ones avoid the probate process, a living trust with a pour-over will might be the best option. You can also write a will that steers funds to a different type of trust you create, such as charitable, special needs or pet trust. Working with an experienced attorney will help you develop a comprehensive estate plan where the individual documents complement each other to meet your specific needs.
Consequences of dying without a will in Tennessee
When a person dies without a valid will, their estate is divided according to that state’s intestacy laws. This is true in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and around the country. Loved ones outside the limited lines of inheritance receive nothing. In situations where someone dies intestate, the disposition of their property often triggers litigation, as relatives present competing claims. This delays the distribution of assets and depletes the estate, reducing what is eventually passed to heirs. For these reasons, drafting a will is the responsible choice.
Can I change my will or amend it?
Once executed, your will is valid until you execute a new will. You are free to do this whenever you like and as often as necessary. On occasion, I can also add valid supplements (known as codicils) that address changes in your circumstances and intentions, although I recommend executing an entirely new will.
Why you should keep your will up to date
You should regularly go over your will to see if updates are warranted. A review every three years or so is a good idea, but you should immediately amend your will after certain events, such as:
- Birth or adoption of a child
- Death of a beneficiary
- Withdrawal of executor or guardian
- Acquisition of new property
Amending your will is a quick, easy process that can prevent probate complications after you are gone.
Helping to ensure your will is enforceable
Simple mistakes can render wills invalid in whole or in part. Essential elements of a valid will include:
- Intent — The testator, the person who creates the will, must intend that the document be a last will and testament at the time it is made. The testator must be of sound mind and comprehension, and must create the will voluntarily, without coercion or undue influence.
- Proper execution — A traditional will is written, signed by the testator and affirmed by two witnesses. A will should be accompanied by a “self-proving” affidavit.
- Clear language — A statement within a will that is confusing or open to various interpretations can invalidate all or part of the will, as well as lead to litigation.
An error in the drafting of your will can cause confusion in the court and conflict among your heirs. To make sure that your wishes can be carried out, it is wise to hire a respected estate planning lawyer.
Contact a dedicated Memphis estate planning lawyer for help with a will
At Parham Estate Law, I draft effective wills for clients in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. Call me 901-602-3361 or contact me online to schedule a consultation at my Memphis office.