Updated: Feb 4
Many people likely remember Fred Thompson from his many roles in blockbuster hollywood films and television shows, like Law and Order, and Die Hard 2. Mr. Thompson is also remembered, especially in Tennessee, as US Senator Fred Thompson. Sadly, Mr. Thompson died on November 1, 2015, due to lymphoma. Though almost one year has passed since his death, a battle is still being waged over whom should inherit what from the late Senator’s estate.
Mr. Thompson drafted and executed a last Will and Testament, which is one form of estate planning, or giving what you want, to whom you want, however you want to give it. Normally, when a person passes away and that person left a Will, then the Will is taken to court and a process called probate is started. This is exactly what happened with Mr. Thompson's Will; however, trouble began brewing.
Anyone who feels he or she is entitled to a share of a deceased person's estate can challenge an otherwise valid Will in court. A challenger to a Will then has the burden to prove that the Will is invalid, which is a tough task. In this case, Mr. Thompson's two adult sons from his first marriage have challenged the Will. They have challenged the Will for a reason you have probably already guessed: they were cut off from inheriting anything.
The adult sons have based their challenge on a concept called, "undue influence". By claiming undue influence, the sons are saying Mr. Thompson would not have cut them out of the Will except that some other person was taking advantage of Mr. Thompson, and got Mr. Thompson to change the Will. This is a hard claim to prove. However, while they challenge the Will, court fees will continue to rack up, and attorney's fees will climb higher and higher.
To summarize, just having a Will is not always the safest way to assure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away, or when you become too ill to make decisions for yourself. Spending a few hours, and often more, with an estate planning attorney can do wonders for your plan. Estate planning attorneys help prevent any future challenge to your wishes from moving forward after you pass away, saving your loved ones time and money trying to defend against such claims. Meeting with an estate planning attorney saves your loved ones not just money, but future time and headaches as well.
About the Company:
Mason & Associates, formerly known as Heritage Law Group, PLLC, is a boutique Estate Planning and Elder Law firm assisting residents in Tennessee and Kentucky. We are dedicated to providing client-centered, professional legal services that are individualized through one-on-one consultations. We delight in empowering our clients and community through education and providing specialized resources. Our integrity-driven team will help you protect your legacy while delivering outstanding quality at a reasonable cost. Your Legacy Is Our Priority™
Jake Mason, J.D., LL.M. (Elder Law & Estate Planning), CELA, EPLS, is the Owner of Mason & Associates Law Firm in Gallatin, Tennessee. He is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney with the National Elder Law Foundation, is board-certified in Estate Planning and Probate by The Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc., of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils, is accredited by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and is licensed in Kentucky and Tennessee. Mason is the only attorney in Tennessee or Kentucky with Board-Certifications in both Elder Law & Estate Planning. Contact us to schedule a consultation via phone, in-office, or video conference at (615) 989-7054 or firstname.lastname@example.org.