Will Preparation: A Will is a legal document that sets forth how an individual’s property will be distributed upon his or her death. No one likes to think about the prospect of having a Will prepared, but Wills help your surviving loved ones and family members understand your intentions with respect to the distribution of your property and also allow you to control how your property is ultimately distributed upon your death.


1. What is probate?

Very basically, it is the court authorized disposition of deceased person’s property and assets. If a person dies testate, that is, with a will, then the will is taken to court and approved by a Judge and the property is ultimately distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. If a person dies intestate, that is, without a will, the deceased’s assets are distributed according to the provisions of Tennessee law. There are numerous legal and procedural requirements to administer both a testate and intestate estate and a lawyer is required for both.

2. Is there minimum amount to required for probate?

If a deceased person’s non-real estate and property, other than property held jointly with right of survivorship, is $25,000.00 or less, then the estate can be probated under the Small Estates Act, which is considerably quicker and less expensive.

3. What is a Will?

A will is a written document executed by the testator (the person writing the will) which provides a plan for the distribution of the person’s assets upon his/her death and names a personal representative to represent the estate after his/her death. A will can be prepared a lawyer or it can be a holographic will which is handwritten by the testator. A holographic will is legal as long as it is entirely in the handwritten by the deceased, signed and dated by the deceased. It is not a good idea to use a form will off of the internet.

4. Are there other documents used for estate planning?

Yes, there are trusts which can either be established in a will or as a separate document.  These can be used for different reasons, either to avoid probate, to set up trusts for minors in the event both parents are deceased, for estate planning in large estates and other reasons.

5. What is a living will?

It is a document in which the writer expresses his or her wishes as to the type and extent of medical care and treatment when they are terminally ill.  It obviously becomes void upon the writer’s death.

6. What is a durable power of attorney for healthcare?

The principal authorizes another person to make health care decisions which is described as the consent, refusal of consent or withdrawal of consent to health care of all types.This power of attorney is usually granted to a relative or someone the principal intrinsically trusts.

7. What is durable power of attorney?

This is another type of power of attorney but has nothing to do with healthcare decisions. In this document, a principal designates their agent to handle either business or personal affairs for him/her. The word durable means it is still effective even after the principal’s disability.

Curtis A. Runger---Memphis Probate Attorney
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Douglass & Runger, Attorneys at Law
2820 Summer Oaks Drive, Bartlett TN, 38134

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