Will and Trust Preparation
Estate Planning & Asset Protection
Probate of Wills & Estates
Elder Law

Do you have a plan for death? A will and/or a Trust is a part of the overall estate plan. Your plan should be carefully and correctly prepared by attention to details to your testamentary document and coordinating your gifts to your loved ones, in consideration of their individual needs, your wishes,
and the inheritance and estate tax consequences. Estate Planning is a very complex process. If the size of your estate exceeds the exemption amounts under the State of Tennessee and the Federal law, the estate will be required to pay death taxes on that portion of your net estate that exceeds the exemptions. This is especially a tax problem upon the subsequent death of a husband or wife. Upon the death of the first spouse to die, all outright gifts to the surviving spouse pass to the surviving spouse under the marital deduction free of taxes both by the State of Tennessee and by the Federal Government. However, the problem arises upon the death of the survivor. There is no marital deduction available for the surviving spouse to utilize at death. The tax problem can be especially burdensome upon the death of the surviving spouse with an increased estate, which would then be consisting of the combination of what previously had been his property, her property, and their property, unless a well though-out estate plan is prepared and implemented by husband and wife before the death of the first to die. Your estate plan should provide for the surviving spouse yet, at the same time, prevent an increase in your surviving spouse’s estate, thus reducing the potential death tax liability upon the estate of the surviving spouse at death. A thorough discussion of tax avoidance estate planning is beyond the scope of a web site. A surviving spouse can be protected and financially cared for and the tax liability decreased by various estate planning and death tax saving steps, such as shifting assets between husband and wife to evenly divide assets among them in large estates. Couples with modest estates may not warrant asset shifting. Furthermore, taxes on the estate of the “last to die” can be minimized by various “by/pass, credit shelter trusts” in the will of the first spouse to die, which are designed to shelter the maximum amount of property that can pass free of Federal and State of Tennessee death taxes from the surviving spouse’s estate. The credit shelter trust in large estates is usually funded in an amount equal to a maximum amount that can qualify for the exemption.

There are other will and trust provisions that can be employed to provide for a surviving spouse’s care and support and at the same time, minimize death taxes upon the death of that surviving “second to die” spouse.

Death & Gift Tax Considerations
Tax consequences should be considered, especially in large and taxable estates. No plan should be implemented, however, without consultation with and the advice of a tax specialist such as your Certified Public Accountant.

Testamentary Trusts and Guardianships to protect minor children
Estate Planning and Care for minor children in the event of the death of both parents is the most important consideration to be taken by young couples. All young couples with children and even with modest estates can and should make provisions in their wills with Testamentary Trusts and Guardianships which provide in the event of a simultaneous death of the parents or upon death of the last to die with minor children remaining, for management of the estate’s assets for the minor children’s care, support, maintenance and education, further providing for a trusting family member to act as trustee and guardian of the children.

In estate planning, consideration should also be given to the need of durable powers of attorney, living wills, healthcare plans and directives.

Vaughn and Hall, Attorneys represents clients in the following areas of Estate and Probate litigation:

• Trust Litigation
• Estate Litigation
• Elective Share Litigation
• Probate Litigation
• Trust Contests
• Will Contests
• Last Will & Testament Disputes
• Spousal Rights
• Beneficiary Rights
• Removal of Personal Rep.
• Breach of Fiduciary Duty
• Determination of Heirs
• Trust Reformation/Construction
• Abuse of Power of Attorney
• Ancillary Probate
• Creditor Claims against Estate
• Lack of Mental Capacity
• Undue Influence Claims

Elder Law
Elder law provides specialized legal counsel to persons involved in the aging process and their caregivers. Vaughn & Hall, attorneys, maintain an “of counsel” relationship with Terry C. Cox, elder law practitioner, to provide services including Medicaid eligibility planning, nursing home admission and elder asset protection. In addition, Mr. Cox’s elder clients receive the services of a staff geriatric care manager who interfaces with health care providers on behalf of the elder. No other elder law practitioner in West Tennessee employs this holistic practice model. The elder law services provided are comprehensive in scope and cover the elder’s needs from the time of engagement through the end of life.

• Disability and Incapacity
• Medicaid
• Health Care
• Pensions and IRA
• Social Security
• Housing
• Medicare
• Nursing Home
• Senior Services
• Veterans’ Benefits
• Conservatorships