We crave fast and simple in our ever complicated culture. We miss the days of Mayberry. However, Aunt Bea probably said herself, ‘nothing good ever comes quickly or easily.’ Or, ‘if you don’t have time to do it right, do you have time to do it twice?’ As irritating as those adages may be, there is truth in them. That same wisdom applies to planning for your future.

Many clients have come to us for help after downloading Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney (POA) from an internet site. It is fast and simple. These documents have probably been created by very knowledgeable and capable attorneys…from other states. However, the laws governing Wills, Trusts, and POAs are different from state to state. What is considered a valid Will in California may vary greatly from what is considered a valid Will in Tennessee. Therefore, a Tennessee Probate Court could invalidate that internet Will and your estate could be disbursed by Tennessee default law rather than by the wishes of the Will-maker.

Other things to look for in internet documents

  • Do the documents specify a certain state’s laws apply?
  • Does the document outline what that state’s laws require for execution of the document? Ex. Witnesses- 1, 2, or 3, notary, signatures or initials, per page or at the end, date, statement of intent, revoking previous document
  • Do the POA documents give the right to make a trust so that the principal can qualify for Medicaid/TennCare?
  • Are the POAs immediate or do they require two doctors’ letters before becoming active?
  • Do the Trust documents explain how to fund the Trust and how that effects your taxes or medical benefits?
  • If the Trust is Revocable, do the documents explain the impact of that?
  • If the Trust is Irrevocable, do the documents explain the impact of that?

Now is the Time to do it Right

So, what should you do? Speak to an elder law attorney or estate planning attorney who can walk with you through the process. With the right people at your side, the process really can be faster and simpler than re-doing your efforts of doing it alone. An experienced Tennessee attorney can point out the consequences of certain decisions, whether it is tax related or medical benefits you might need in the future. Those internet documents can be a good starting point for thought and discussion, but they cannot replace the knowledge of local law applied to your particular circumstances.

Moreover, Aunt Bea would encourage thoughtful planning and doing it right the first time. Because… a stitch in time saves nine.

We Can Help

We can walk you through the process of establishing a SNT that is right for you and your family. You and they will be taken care of. We are here to help guide you as you make decisions regarding your estate and long term care planning needs.  Whatever issue is preventing you from developing a more extensive estate plan, please allow Elder Law of Middle Tennessee to assist you in this process.

For more information, contact our Lebanon, TN office at 615-444-3568 and schedule your appointment today.