What a Will CanNOT Do.  Part II. 

A will cannot change the fact that property you own jointly with your spouse will go to your spouse when you die.  That’s the law in Tennessee.  It’s called a “tenancy by the entirety”.  There’s no “my half” and “your half”…it’s going to pass 100% to the surviving spouse.

And this little fact is what makes planning for a blended family more complicated.  Many couples come to us in order to protect their children, and invariably they will tell us that they want everything to go to their spouse, and when he/she dies, then in equal shares to ALL the kids.  Maybe wife had 3 kids and husband had 2, and these folks got together after their kids were grown.  But now they have 25 years together and want to leave everything to the surviving spouse when the first one dies, but they also want to be SURE that their kids inherit when the last spouse standing dies.

AND most of the time the couple owns their major asset, their home, as tenants by the entirety—that is, John Doe and Jane Doe, husband and wife.

We can prepare wills according to their desires, but remember, wills are revocable and modifiable.  So, if Stepdaddy finds a new woman after Mama dies, he can change the will entirely and leave Mama’s kids out in the cold.  Also, the entire estate is available for Stepdaddy’s medical expenses and nursing home.

We have solutions for this situation.  Our advice may include a quitclaim deed to sever the tenancy by the entirety and create a tenants in common ownership and/or a post-nuptial agreement to guarantee that your kids receive their fair share.

Our expertise and advice is specialized—to estate planning and to you and your special circumstances.  Come see us and give us a chance to get to know you and help put your mind to rest about the future.  We sell peace of mind.

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