Most Spread Misconceptions About Estate Planning

The next beliefs are the most spread misconceptions about estate planning among Americans prior to speaking with attorneys knowledgeable about Tennessee probate law at Mckoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, PLLC.

My Children will be Happy to Inherit my House

Maybe yes, maybe no. Adult children are not as nostalgic about your house they grew up in as parents like to think. Most likely, the value of the house lies in your own interest and memories. Depending on the language in your will, the house may “go down like a rock” to the beneficiaries, that, after a restricted time when the estate can pay the bills, will after that use their own cash for maintenance, taxes, and insurance on the home. This is much more bothersome if a minor inherits an interest in real estate.

Only Wealthy People Need Trusts

Although rich people may use trusts more often than others, it doesn’t mean the trust is useless for you. A trust can provide the following benefits for individuals of any means:

  • Asset management during one’s lifetime, not only after death
  • Better management by successors in case of disability
  • Protection to beneficiaries (e.g. children, and so on) from their creditors, predators, or their own possible poor decision-making
  • Providing assets protection to a spouse that receives long-term care Medicaid
  • Enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities
  • Providing for a surviving spouse while protecting assets of the children, particularly in a blended family members case
  • Personal privacy
  • Quicker sequence and also management after death
  • Reduced cost of administration after death
  • Not only children, but even a pet can get care after the owner’s death

For sure, there is no solution that will fit all situations. For that reason, there is a number of different trusts depending on your needs such as living Trusts, insurance Trusts, personal residence Trusts,
special needs trusts, and even dynasty trusts. To understand which one will work the best for you, contact our estate planning attorneys for a consultation.

I Don’t Want to Leave any kind of Assets to My Spouse

It is technically true that you can compose a will and disinherit your spouse. Nevertheless, you cannot efficiently disinherit your spouse without your partner’s approval.

You and your spouse can agree to disinherit each other by signing a prenuptial agreement or a post-nuptial marriage agreement which should be done in writing. If there are any kind of modifications or revocations after signing these documents, they should additionally be written in. The agreements don’t stop each spouse from leaving an inheritance to the other; instead, they prevent the disinherited spouse from making inheritance as well as other insurance claims and allocations that Tennessee law permits a surviving spouse to make. On the other hand, federal law requires your partner to consent if you do not call him or her as the 100% beneficiary of certain retirement plans.

Power of Attorney (POA) is Only About Tax Planning Gifting.

If authorized in the POA, the Agent might make gifts of the Principal’s (the individual who signed the POA) property. Many POAs reduce the gift amount to the “annual exclusion amount,” which is the maximum worth of gifts (currently $15,000) a person can offer every year to another person without reporting the gift to the IRS.

Tennessee law does not permit gifting if the POA doesn’t contain gifting authority. Gifting authority is restricted to the annual exclusion amount unless other limitations are offered. Although annual exclusion limits may cover most gifting circumstances, they nearly never ever cover gifting that may be necessary for asset protection objectives if long-term care is required.

For instance, if an elderly partner is not able to live safely in the house, nursing home care might be needed. If Medicaid care will cover just a part o the expenses, some of the spouses’ assets can be protected for use by the partner who stays at home. But moving assets from the sick partner’s name to the well spouse’s name is a gift. If the combined value of these gifts is higher than $15,000, and also the ill partner is incapable of making the gifts himself, after that a POA’s gifting authority that is restricted to the annual exclusion amount is insufficient and Court consent will be essential to make the gifts.

To gift, the gift giver should be competent, have provided adequate lawful authority in the POA, or the Court should authorize the gits.

Special Needs Children Must Be Disinherited to Protect their Benefits.

Disinheriting a child (or grandchild) with special needs is not required to protect his/her accessibility to needs-based benefits. Nor is it required (or sensible!) to rely on another beneficiary to “make right decisions” and use part of a now-larger inheritance to care for a disinherited child with special needs. Even if this person plans to do the best, unpredicted events can upend the most effective laid plans and leave the child with special needs without the anticipated additional help.

With correct planning, an inheritance can be left for the benefit of a recipient with unique needs in a manner that will improve the beneficiary’s lifestyle and provide enrichment that would certainly otherwise be limited or unavailable if the individual relies on federal government benefits alone.

Estate planning is a very complicated field. It requires knowledge of both federal and Tennessee laws, experience and ability to predict possible circumstances or consequences that may involve you and your closest people. Start thinking about your and your family’s future today – contact our attorneys to develop a strategy that will accomplish your estate planning goals.

How To Include Unforeseen Site Conditions In Your Contract

Construction agreement definitions differ, yet generally an unforeseen site condition takes place when the owner as well as contractor at the time of the contract finalizing are unaware that the subsurface of a construction site has a physical property or does not have a physical property presumed to be existing.

For example, a physical object could be an old chemical tank underground, as well as an absent physical property could be soil that has the required load-bearing ability. Regardless of the type of project, subsurface problem clauses regularly top the list of the most important contract provisions and also the most usual root causes of construction disputes. The contract options to assign the danger are finite because there are just three scenarios readily available to the parties: the owner bears all subsurface condition risks, the contractor bears all the risks, or they share the risks together.


Although the owner is normally reluctant to bear all site risks, it does take place under particular situations. Examples include a construction supervisor job delivery method, a cost plus rates arrangement, an extremely short construction routine or a mindful choice that the owner makes to retain all subsurface condition risks in order to lower the contract price.

When the owner bears all the danger for site conditions, the construction agreement must clarify this with assumptions, inclusions and also exclusions. The contractor’s leaving out site investigations and responsibility for any and all subsurface problems that are known, unidentified, visible, not noticeable, direct or unforeseeable are instances of exemptions in the contract. The change-in-work section of the contract should reflect the site conditions risk allocation, entitling the contractor to a cost and schedule change order for remedying such conditions.


Design-build, EPC, construction manager at risk and also, in uncommon situations design-bid-build, are project delivery methods where the specialist is most likely to bear all site problem risks. The common denominators are a set price and a turnkey project. Here, the owner wants to pay a repaired or limited amount of money for the contractor to bear all site condition risks. For a design-bid-build delivery, the absence of a site condition provision could effectively shift all risks to the contractor for site conditions without the contractor meaning to bear those threats.

The construction agreement need to reflect this risk allocation with an exclusion that the proprietor bears no risks or costs related to an unpredicted or unknown site condition, absent misrepresentation, and also the contractor bears all site problem dangers– well-known, unknown, noticeable, not visible, foreseeable or unforeseeable. Besides giving that the contractor is not entitled to any kind of change orders associated with subsurface site problems, the contract must include language to the effect that the contractor has thoroughly explored the site. If, as is so frequently the case, the contractor can not execute an extensive examination as a result of time, cost or site area before signing the construction contract or sending a binding proposal, contingency money or an allowance in the contract rate for the site risk is standard.


The more typical circumstance is for the owner as well as contractor to share the subsurface condition risks; however, the parties might not consider several choices in the business offer and also contract negotiation. Increasingly, customized contracts and common type contracts  have a variety of site risk-sharing provisions. In fact, the expression “unforeseen site conditions” in the contract makes the most sense when the parties are sharing the site risk since if only one party bears all the risks, then actual site condition differences compared to assumed site conditions are irrelevant.

The good news is that shared danger allocation for subsurface conditions works with all project shipment techniques as well as contract prices kinds. When the parties share the site dangers, they can move a certain risk to the party best able to manage it. For example, the proprietor might have better expertise about a site that was purchased and cleared, or the contractor may much better understand the bad soil conditions in a certain region where he/she has actually constructed many jobs.

The very first contract option for sharing risk is transparent cost sharing. The parties split the expenses based upon a percentage (e.g., 60/40), a tiered model (e.g., the contractor bears the cost up to $20,000 and then the owner bears any type of extra expenses), or a GMP contract cost allowance with the unused balance refunded to the proprietor at the end of the project.

The second risk-sharing contract choice entails the parties’ decision of who is in charge of a specific subsurface danger. For example, the contractor bears the danger for a subsurface problem that is materially various from what is normally found in the geographical area or from what the proprietor’s geotechnical record determines.

In general, the only limitation the parties have in preparing a site conditions provision contract is their own imagination in crafting an unforeseen site conditions business deal. Though, legal assistance here is vital to guarantee that the contract will protect your interests and in any case.

Whether you are a general contractor, subcontractor, vendor, supplier, owner or developer, a construction law attorney from McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, PLLC will assist you in effectively and efficiently resolving your disputes. We can negotiate a contract, communicate your claims to the owner, developer or general contractor, assist you with being paid and much more. Don’t hesitate to contact us to get legal help you really need.

Where Does Your Debt Go When You’re Gone?

Any kind of debts you leave when you pass away can eliminate the assets that you had hoped to leave to heirs. Sometimes, member of the family might also be on the hook of your debt. Many individuals buy life insurance policy not just to leave something behind for their beloved ones but also to aid deal with any kind of debt and also last expenses.

Your debts become the obligation of your estate after you die. Your estate is every little thing you owned at the time of your death. The procedure of paying your costs and also distributing what remains is called probate.

The executor of your estate, the individual responsible for handling your will and estate after your death, will certainly use your properties to repay your debts. This can suggest creating checks from a bank account or selling home to get some cash. If there are no sufficient means to cover your debts, creditors generally are out of good luck.

On the other hand, particular types of debs can become other people’s burden.


If there’s a joint homeowner or if someone inherits your house, this person will be responsible for your debts. Yet federal regulation bars lenders from forcing a joint owner to repay the mortgage instantly after the death of the co-owner. If there’s no joint property owner, the executor can pay the mortgage out of the estate. If there’s not enough money in the estate, a family member who inherits the house can simply take over the mortgage payments.

Home Equity Loan

The same goes for a home equity loan if somebody inherits it. A lender can require him/her to repay the loan instantly, which might imply selling the house. That said, lenders may work with new owners to let them simply take control of the settlements on the home-equity loan.

Credit Cards

If the estate runs out of assets to pay bank card balances, credit card companies run out luck due to the fact that this debt is not secured by properties the way mortgages and car loan are. Yet any type of joint account owner would be accountable for the unpaid bills. Individuals that are simply authorized users of a credit card are exempt for paying the balance.

Car Loan

The executor can also pay the car loan out of the estate. If payments stop, the loan provider can repossess the automobile. If the estate can not repay the car loan, whoever acquires the car can just proceed paying as well as the lender is unlikely to do something about it.

Student Loans

The estate must pay off personal student loan debt, however lenders have no choice if the estate does not have possessions to settle unprotected debts such as student loans. But, co-signers of private student loans will be in charge of remaining debt. Some lenders might even forgive the debt upon death, but this is not typically the case. To make sure no one will be responsible for your student loan after you pass, it’s best to use federal student loans since they are discharged upon your death. If a student’s parent has a federal PLUS loan, it will be discharged upon the death of either the parent or student.

If you need assistance with planning your estate, asset protection, or other elder law issues, contact the dedicated and skilled Chattanooga estate planning attorneys at the McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, PLLC.

What Should You Do If You’re Accused Of Shoplifting?

What should you do if you’re accused of shoplifting? Depending on the circumstances, it could be a minor little incident, or a potentially expensive criminal ordeal.

The amount of supposedly stolen products is a determining factor. It will influence whether  shoplifting will be met with a mere citation, or charged as a misdemeanor or even a felony. Exactly how you act when faced claimed shoplifting can also influence your case.

Here are five points to expect and also think about if you’re confronted a shoplifting accusation.

Remain Silent

Going mad could make things even worse and also often results in spoken hostility that you’ll want you might take back. Take a deep breath and count to 10 before you act or make any kind of statements. In fact, silence could be gold as just what you say could be used against you in court, so it might be best to request a Chattanooga criminal defense attorney and afterwards simply refuse to talk.

Know Your Rights

In terms of law, an owner of a store or security officers can actually detain you on suspicion of shoplifting while they wait for polices to arrive. Moreover, they have the right to check your bag or pockets for the proof of shoplifting, but should do it IMMEDIATELY and better with some independent witnesses. Otherwise, there’s a chance that somebody just planted a product on a person.

What you should also know is that they must have a strong reason that you were shoplifting, and can use only reasonable means and reasonable force to detain you. Any pressure or force that can lead to bodily injury is restricted and can serve as basis for a lawsuit down the road.

Know The Law

You do not need to actually “shoplift” to be charged. State legislations about theft differ, yet in several states, being a “lookout” or deliberately distracting bystanders’ focus away from a shoplifter could be prosecuted under shoplifting regulations. The crime of theft could likewise include changing or swapping price tags.

As for the Tennessee Law, the shoplifting or theft is defined by the following actions:

  • Concealing or removing the goods;
  • Changing or removing any price tags;
  • Removing the product from one container to another;
  • Causing a sales recording device (i.e. cash register) to show less than the actual price on a product;
  • Removing, destroying, deactivating, or evading a component of an anti-shoplifting device to commit or facilitate a theft;
  • Using an instrument, device, or container to commit or facilitate a theft; or
  • Activating or interfering with a fire alarm system to commit or facilitate a theft.

Contact A Lawyer

Criminal penalties are possible for all types of theft. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney could assist you examine proof and also obtain the most effective possible result for your particular situation. First-time founded guilty thiefs can usually get  social work or participate in an education program instead of tougher fines. In more serious shoplifting cases, a plea deal may be possible. That’s why spending some money for an attorney could possibly pay off big-time when you’re charged of theft.

If you need help with a shoplifting charge, contact a Chattanooga criminal defense lawyer immediately. McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC our Chattanooga criminal defense attorneys can protect the rights of the accused in the state and federal courts of Tennessee.  We have the resources and experience to handle a wide range of criminal charges, we are ready to step in and protect your rights as soon as possible.

Criminal Charges: Why Hire A Private Lawyer

When an individual is dealing with criminal charges, they are forced to make lots of vital decisions. They must think about whether to plead guilty or not guilty. They should determine whether to take a punishment suggested by a prosecutor. Potentially the most vital decision is who she or he needs to use as a lawyer.

A criminal defendant generally has two primary choices: a public defender or a private lawyer. Both choices have their own advantages and disadvantages. S/he has to very carefully evaluate the pros and cons before making a final decision.

Public Defender

A public defender is appointed to the case by the court and to offenders who could not afford hiring a private lawyer. As a result, the defendant does not need to pay for his or her lawyer, which can otherwise be very pricey.

Public defenders have dealt with a variety of criminal situations and normally have experience working with criminal cases. They interact with prosecutors on a regular basis and also may have a far better connection with them that can assist obtain plea agreements through.

Why Public Defender Is Not The Best Choice

First of all, keep in mind that public defenders are governmental workers. Therefore, they normally make a lot less compared to private lawyers. Given that a lot of people are not able to pay for to work with a lawyer for their criminal protection, they frequently have huge caseloads. It is common for public protectors to be overworked and underpaid. These factors could result in blunders or lack of time to meet with clients and prepare for the case.

It often happens that the public defender hasn’t spent even an hour before the person enters a plea because of managing hundreds of cases in parallel. Such a large caseload consumes time, energy and focus needed to develop a legal protection that can have prevented or minimized the impact of a conviction.

Another negative aspect of having a public defender is that the client does not have many options. It’s the court who appoints the lawyer. If the general public defender is not satisfying the client, it may be quite problematic to work together and get a new public defender.

Why Hire A Private Lawyer

First and foremost, a private lawyer is selected personally by an interested party – the defendant or his or her family. For many individuals, the only negative aspect of working with a private lawyer is having to pay for his/her services. But the price cannot be compared with the value of your freedom and future.

Private legal representatives normally do not have nearly as many cases as public defenders. This allows them to have more face to face time with clients. This time can be used to get better accustomed with the defendant and also to find details that can help the defense. This enables a private lawyer to discover weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that could aid the lawyer get the situation dismissed or have the costs reduced.

Because the defendant is paying for legal services and relevant lawful expenses, there may be a lot more sources that can help with the defense. For instance, it becomes possible to hire expert witnesses to explain a key aspect of the case. Evidences that will be used against the defendant can be tested in private laboratories if there are any doubts in verity of the results. Another option is to hire private investigators to discover important evidence that will certainly assist the defense. In general, private lawyers always have additional staff, associates and paralegals that can help on the case.

At McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC our Chattanooga criminal defense attorneys can protect the rights of the accused in the state and federal courts of Tennessee. On the contrary to public defenders who may be very difficult to get a hold of, we are always available for the call or personal meeting. Our main aim is to protect your rights and interests. We have the resources and experience to handle a wide range of criminal charges, we are ready to step in and protect your rights as soon as possible. If you are facing criminal charge, any minute is precious – contact us for a professional legal defense you can rely on.

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