Most Tennesseans haven't made their own estate plan.

Little do they know, they have one.....the one the State of Tennessee has made for them!

Bankston Legacy Law serves the estate planning needs of Tennessee families.

What makes up an Estate Plan?

  • An estate plan is comprised of important documents that provide instructions regarding how you want your children, your health, and your property to be handled should you become incapacitated or die. Having this plan in place will give you and your family peace of mind, and can make a difficult situation less stressful for your loved ones.

  • Estate plans are organized with either a Will or a Revocable Living Trust as the central document. In short, a Will must go through a public legal process called probate before your assets can be distributed. Should you wish, a Living Trust can be designed to distribute your assets outside of probate, eliminating the time, expense and public manner of this legal process.

  • Estate Plans typically include the following documents.

    • Last Will and Testament — Most everyone needs a Last Will and Testament. A Will is a document that states who should receive your assets when you pass and who should act as the Guardian of your minor children and the Conservator of their inheritance until they reach age 18. Assets distributed by Will must go through a public probate process.

    • Living Trust — You can think of a Living Trust as an invisible bucket containing your assets that you control during your life. It is “revocable” because you can revoke it for any reason during your lifetime. When you pass, a Trustee designated by you will distribute your assets pursuant to the instructions you put in your Trust Agreement. This distribution can happen without the delay and added cost of probate, and the process is private. You can also customize your Living Trust. For example, if you have minor children or grandchildren, you can control when and under what conditions they receive asset distributions.

    • General Durable Power of Attorney for Finance — A Power of Attorney allows you to authorize someone, your agent, to act on your behalf in conducting financial affairs. This becomes extremely important if you become incapacitated and cannot handle financial affairs on your own.  Also becomes important for elderly couples.  If one becomes incapacitated, the other can sign documents for the other spouse if this POA is in place.

    • Healthcare Power of Attorney  — This document names the person you trust to make decisions about your medical care should you become unable to speak for yourself. This document is especially important for unmarried partners, parents of college-aged children, and others whose relationship may not be recognized by medical professionals.

    • Living Will — A Living Will details your wishes for medical care or the withdrawal of such care should you face incurable incapacity.  It allows you to make certain end-of-life medical decisions now in the event that you are in a terminal condition and unable to make those decisions when they arise.

    • HIPAA Authorization — A HIPAA Authorization allows you to direct your healthcare providers to share your confidential medical information with a specific person or people. This document is especially important for unmarried partners, parents of college-aged children, and anyone who would like their loved ones to be able to be informed about their medical condition in real time.

    • Final Disposition of Remains — This document allows you to specify how you want your remains to be handled upon your death and to designate the person who will be responsible for your funeral. In it, you can specify whether you would like to make anatomical gifts to those waiting for organ donation, and/or to research or scientific study. Making known your wishes for the final disposition of your remains reduces the burden of stressful decision-making for your family.

      Child Protection Documents — The care and protection of minor children is extremely important. Parents/guardians of young children should have these documents in place.

      • Emergency Guardianship/Power of Attorney — If neither you nor your child’s other parent or legal guardian is able to take care of your child immediately after an accident, first responders will need to take custody of your child to ensure their safety. This is a extremely stressful time for your children. A Power of Attorney for Minor Children allows you to designate another adult living nearby to step in, in lieu of foster care, as the temporary guardian of your child, until you can resume care or a court can appoint the permanent guardian named in your Will.

      • Patient Advocate for Minor Children — This document allows you to designate a trusted adult to make medical decisions for your child if you are unable to do so.