Estate Planning

Legal Services in Signal Mountain, TN

Practice Areas

Trailhead Estate Planning offers services in Estate Planning, Probate Administration, Elder Law, and Special Needs Planning.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is the umbrella term for preparing for your future, your family’s future, and the things that could throw that plan off. Here at Trailhead Estate Planning, I anticipate these issues and work to eliminate the stress of trying to navigate them unprepared. 

Estate Planning can and should be a team effort. As an estate planning law firm, I happily work with your financial planner, accountant, insurance agent, doctors, bankers, and supporting family members to have your plan ready. 

When you have created and maintained an estate plan, you’ll be better prepared for what to do in periods of prolonged physical or mental incapacity, what happens in the days around a death, and the legacy you leave for your family in the years and decades to come. 

Those who have recently completed their estate planning often report a sense of relief. Given that people frequently report being “very concerned” about what will happen without an estate plan, addressing that concern understandably brings a sense of ease. 

Documents Associated with Estate Planning Include:

  • Last Wills
  • Revocable Trusts (also called “Living Trusts”)
  • Irrevocable Trusts (e.g. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts—ILIT)
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Living Wills / Advance Directives / Healthcare Powers of Attorney

There are many other documents found in estate planning, and an almost infinite variation within them, which is great news when you want your plan to match your desires for your family and your property.

Getting Ready to Make Your Plan

Want to start off your journey on the right foot? Here are some things you’ll need to get started right away: 

  • Make a list of your accounts, properties, and other major possessions and how they are owned (titled). Then note any "Transfer on Death" (TOD), "Payable on Death" (POD), or beneficiary designations.
  • Look at your goals and concerns for the next 5 to 10 years. What drives you in the morning and keeps you up at night? 
  • Think about how you want your assets divided if you weren’t here tomorrow. Now consider where those assets should go if your first choice isn’t available. What worries you about those beneficiaries getting those assets? 
  • Schedule an appointment today to make sure your assets will follow your plan and address your concerns. 

You can use this questionnaire to get you started. 

Estate Planning Questionnaire
father and son camping

Estate Planning Review

At Trailhead Estate Planning, I can also:

  • Answer your questions about estate planning, 
  • Review your existing documents, 
  • Assess possible changes to your existing plan
  • Prepare new documents, and 
  • Help make sure your assets follow your plan.

If you are ready to make or review your estate plan, contact me today. I look forward to showing you how I can map an estate plan that fits your needs.

Contact Me Today!

If you are ready to begin your estate planning journey, or if you have more questions, get in touch with me today.
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Elder Law

Probate Administration

Probate law and probate administration address how to wrap-up the affairs of someone who has died and transfer any remaining assets to other individuals. This is also called "Estate Administration," or more simply, an "Estate." If you've heard about someone being an "Executor" an "Administrator" or a "Personal Representative" for an estate, this is what they're doing.

Probate is the court procedure where a deceased person’s assets are located, outstanding bills are presented and evaluated, and heirs are identified. If a person died with bank accounts, real property, or other assets in his or her sole name, you will likely need some assistance with the probate process. 

If a person dies with a will, the estate is called "Testate," and the Last Will & Testament determines how, when, and to whom the remaining assets will be distributed. If a person dies without a will, the estate is called "Intestate," and state law determines how the remaining assets will be divided among remaining family. 

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If you have been named an executor or someone has died and you don't know what do to, give me a call.
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Elder Law

“Getting older ain’t easy...”

That’s the cleaned-up version of what my late grandfather used to say about the aging process. Elder Law is about aging gracefully and caring for those around us. We may not like it, but the sooner we can accept and anticipate the slings and arrows of time, the better off we’ll be. Bodies and minds can become weaker as we get older, but planning ahead can reduce the stress that comes with advancing years.

Elder law addresses issues head-on, such as:

  • The cost of a nursing home or long-term care,
  • Providing for a surviving spouse,
  • Leaving a legacy for children and grandchildren, and
  • Who should take over financial and medical decisions in the event of incapacity.

Elder Law Planning

Families are often thrust into elder law issues. While there is usually a workable resolution in a crisis, there are many more tools and effective techniques available for those who plan ahead. 

If you’ve been thrust into crisis planning, don’t panic. You’re like the family in the woods in the dark. At Trailhead Estate Planning, there are still many tools and techniques available, and this won’t be our first time to come crashing through the underbrush to answer the call. I can also help if you’re at the trailhead trying to avoid being lost in the first place.

senior couple smiling

Contact Me Today!

If you have been named an executor or someone has died and you don't know what do to, give me a call.

Special Needs Services

Person First Planning gets to the heart of special needs planning,  which focuses on addressing the needs, desires, and quality of life for individuals with special needs. Preserving eligibility for government benefits is a central piece of planning for a person with special needs, but that’s not the only step. Individuals with special needs are still individuals, and the planning for their future should be tailored to their situation.

Frequently used instruments in special needs planning include:

  • first party or “(d)(4)(A)” special needs trusts with state payback provisions
  • third party special needs trusts (which lack the payback provisions)
  • ABLE accounts
  • guardianship or conservatorship

girl with down syndrome

Special needs planning applies for both issues from birth (e.g. autism) and acquired issues (e.g. traumatic brain injury). Techniques vary depending on whether the planning is for a future inheritance or the preservation of an existing asset such as a settlement from a lawsuit. The constant is that what matters most is what’s best for the individual at the heart of the planning. If you or a loved one has special needs, it is imperative that you have an estate plan that addresses those needs.