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Why might a will be challenged after a person's death?

As readers of this Tennessee legal blog know, having an up-to-date estate plan is an excellent idea for anyone who wants to have control over the disposition of their assets when they pass on. As a prior post on this blog noted, those who die without estate plans may see their wealth and assets distributed based upon the state's laws of intestacy and those laws may not always coincide with the desires of individuals. An estate plan can help individuals protect their wishes for how they desire to see their estates' distributed.

However, in some cases, even individuals who take the time for estate planning will experience problems with the distributions of their estates after their deaths. This is particularly true when the decedents' heirs elect to challenge their wills and to attempt to have testamentary documents set aside. This post will examine some of the reasons that wills may be challenged after their creators' deaths.

The process of working through a business merger

A start-up or other small business can be a source of pride for a Tennessee resident. They may pour their blood, sweat and tears into their enterprise to make it successful and may endure personal sacrifices along the way to ensure its continuing viability. While some businesses close within their first few months or years, others withstand the test of time and push into the future.

Closing and staying open are not always the only options businesses have for their futures, though. They may find that other entities are interested in joining with or acquiring them, and this can lead to the business's merger with another. This post will provide very general information about what happens when businesses merge, but as with all complex business law issues readers are advised to seek their own advice regarding their own legal needs.

How can zoning impact a property owner's use of their land?

It can take years for a Tennessee resident to locate the right piece of land on which to build their home or business. After carefully assessing parcel after parcel, an individual may finally come across the perfect spot on which to build. Before they sign on the dotted line and purchase the tract that they believe will become the home to their real estate dream, they should first ensure that the parcel is zoned appropriately for their intended use.

Zoning is the practice of assigning appropriate uses to different areas of land. For example, a city may zone outlying areas for industrial and agricultural use while zoning city centered areas for residential and commercial uses. The idea behind zoning is that similarly used tracts will be located near each other and therefore be less likely to affect each other's usages.

What do I have to tell a buyer about my home?

Selling a home is a stressful venture. You may have much to lose if you cannot find a buyer in a timely manner, so you want to take whatever steps are necessary to improve the chances of attracting and keeping a buyer. This may include applying a new coat of paint, removing clutter from the rooms and improving the curb appeal of your home.

No matter how attractive you make your home for potential buyers, you may still be aware of issues that may discourage someone from making an offer. Your fear of losing a buyer may cause you to cover these defects and keep quiet about them until you sell the house. However, that may be a serious and costly mistake.

Options for keeping assets out of probate

If a Tennessee resident dies without having any estate planning tools in place, some or all of their assets may pass into the probate courts of the state. During the probate process, the assets of the decedent are located, debts are paid and distribution is made based on certain laws and procedural requirements. Though probate is intended to allow for the orderly distribution of assets to heirs after a death, it can be time consuming, costly and can dwindle the wealth of an estate.

Therefore, many people try to keep as much of their property out of probate as they can. This can be accomplished in many different ways depending upon the types of assets the individuals possess.

What is intestacy and how might it affect your estate plan?

A person's family tree can have many branches that reach far and wide into the world. While some of their close family may live near them in Tennessee, they may have cousins, grandparents, and even more distant relations that spread across the rest of the country and even across oceans. Not everyone is close to their relatives, though, and not everyone wants to benefit their distant relations through the execution of their estate plan.

When a person makes an estate plan, they have the ability to identify who will be their beneficiaries and who may be excluded from taking from their end-of-life estate. If that person died without a plan, though, there would be no documentation to direct how and where their assets should be sent. When a person dies without a will, they are considered to have died intestate, and their estates will pass through the laws of intestacy.

Disinheriting a child without fear of a challenge

Not every family has the makings of a charming holiday movie. In many homes, adult children become estranged from their parents for various reasons. This may include a simple parting of philosophies or a serious breach of trust. If your family is in this situation, you know that it can be difficult, and you may have tried numerous paths to reconciliation.

Nonetheless, if you are making your estate plan, the problem of dealing with your estranged child may weigh heavily on you. After much consideration, you may have decided that it is best to exclude your child from your estate plan. However, disinheriting a child is not as simple as omitting his or her name from the will. In fact, if you take this route, you may be leaving the rest of your family to deal with a complex legal battle.

Dealing with fraud when negotiating business agreements

Contracts are important documents for most Tennessee businesses. Through contracts, a business can hire new employees, retain the services of vendors, buy supplies and inventory, and acquire new capital to grow. The strength of a contract often resides in the planning that took place before it was executed, because problems in contracts can lead to disputes and litigation later on between the parties.

One issue that can arise in a business contract is an allegation of fraudulent misrepresentation. Fraudulent misrepresentation is a form of fraud that involves basing a contract on false information or omissions. For example, if a party to a contract knowingly misleads the other party and entices them into entering into an agreement, fraudulent misrepresentation may be alleged in a later legal proceeding.

What is the difference between a foreclosure and a short sale?

Taking on a mortgage is a big commitment in the life of a Tennessee resident. Unlike paying rent, a person who secures a mortgage for the purchase of a home is often committed into a long-term, sometimes multiple decades-long contract to pay off their loan. When circumstances arise and the person cannot make their mortgage payments they may face challenges from their mortgage holder and threats of foreclosure on their loan.

Foreclosure is the process of a bank or other lender reclaiming a home from a borrower who has defaulted on their payments. When a person secures a loan to buy a house their lender effectively purchases the property and then allows the individual to repay them over time and with interest until the full amount of the home loan is satisfied. The failure of the individual to make full and complete payments can force a lender to take back the home and resell it to recoup their losses.

What assets avoid probate?

After a person dies, their estate goes into probate. That means the court will make sure that a will is valid or, if there is no will, someone is appointed executor of the estate to pay bills, taxes and distribute the state’s assets.

Not all estates have to go through probate, however.

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