Our Customized Services
Attorney Nancy Cogar is committed to providing comprehensive legal services in the areas of Elder Law, Estate Planning, Long term care planning, Trusts and Probate Administration. All members of our staff strive to offer professional and compassionate support to our valued clients. On this page you will find some of the most routine services provided by our firm.
Although some of the services we offer may address issues common to aging, the circumstances of each individual and their family dynamics may vary greatly. Ideally, families would make estate plans far in advance of a crisis so that all their legal planning needs are in place. Sometimes, in spite of the best laid plans, life happens and you and your family are suddenly faced with critical decisions and the need for legal advice to make informed choices. For most of us, our needs change as we age. Therefore, it is important to have a relationship with an attorney that can guide you through the different phases of life.
Another common but costly and incorrect assumption is that estate planning documents such as a Last Will and Testament, General Durable Power of Attorney (GDPOA) and Durable Health Care Power of Attorney are generic do-it-yourself documents.
Estate documents designed by the Law Offices of Nancy Cogar will be created specific to your needs and preferences. These are NOT generic forms. We take the time to educate our clients so that they understand the powers that each of these important documents provide to the person acting on their behalf. A Last Will and Testament, General Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney are personalized instruments designed according to your specifications. See the description below for more information on the purpose of each of these important legal documents.
RED FLAG CONSULTATION
We invite new prospective clients to schedule a Red Flag Consultation. This meeting will provide one hour with the attorney for the special price of $300.00. The fee can be credited toward any legal service you retain with our firm. Sometimes one hour with the attorney can answer your critical questions and no action is required. If after meeting with Attorney Cogar you see the need for legal representation, the attorney will outline a plan of action for your matter.
Some people devote more time to planning a vacation, deciding which car to buy, or even researching the reviews to choose a restaurant to eat dinner than they do to estate planning – deciding who will inherit their assets after they’re gone. Without estate planning, you can’t choose who gets everything that you worked so hard for.
Estate planning isn’t only for the rich. Without a plan in place, settling your affairs after you go could have a long-lasting – and costly – impact on your loved ones, even if you don’t have a pricey home, large IRA, or valuable art to pass on. If you die without a will, which is a vital part of an estate plan, the courts will decide who gets your assets.
There are four key reasons why you should have a plan in order to avoid potentially negative consequences for your heirs.
• Estate Planning allows you to choose who gets what
• Estate planning afford you the chance to name your children’s guardian in the event of your early death
• Estate planning reduces taxes on what you leave behind
• Estate planning minimizes the chances of family strife and ugly legal battles
ESTATE PLANNING PACKAGES
Customized Estate Planning documents are one of the most needed and requested services we provide to our clients. The Law Offices of Nancy A. Cogar has created three bundle specials to address most of the common needs.
Basics of Estate Planning
This section will describe our estate services and the fundamental documents included in an estate plan. This includes:
- Trust Administration
- Probate Administration
- General Durable Power of Attorney
- Durable Health Care Power of Attorney
- Last Will and Testament
Each family is unique so we invite you to schedule a Red Flag Legal Consultation with Attorney Cogar to discuss your needs and desires.
Trust administration is not a court ordered process. It involves the transfer of property from the creator of the trust to the trust’s beneficiaries. Unlike probate proceedings, trust administration allows for the simple distribution of property to beneficiaries.
A revocable trust is created when an individual (known as the settlor) creates a legal document that puts the care of his/her assets in the possession of another person. The person who is assigned care of trust assets is known as the trustee. The trustee is almost always the same person that created the trust. A revocable trust allows the settlor/trustee to liquidate its assets at any time. When the settlor dies, the revocable trust become irrevocable.
Trust Administration consists of “housekeeping” paperwork required after the settlor/trustee passes away. During trust administration, the trustee is required to safeguard the trust assets and pay all required taxes. The complexity of trust administration will depend on the type of assets held in the trust, their total value, and the tax liabilities the trust may be subject to.
Contact the Law Offices of Nancy A. Cogar for more information about trust administration in Tennessee. We provide basic trust administration services after the death of the settlor. Trust administration is important. Completing trust an correctly will keep trust assets out of probate court or exposed to extensive tax liabilities.
Probate is the judicial process whereby a will is “proved” in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased, or whereby the estate is settled according to the laws of intestacy in the state of residence (for real property) of the deceased at time of death in the absence of a legal will.
The granting of probate is the first step in the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person’s property under a will. To begin a probate of an individual’s estate in Tennessee, the Personal Representative or Executor must file a Petition for Probate with the Court. Probates are under the jurisdiction (control) of the Chancery Court in Hamilton County. The Petition for Probate should include the original Last Will and Testament of your loved one (referred to by the Court as the decedent).
The Law Offices of Nancy A. Cogar offers a free brochure entitled: Your Loved One’s Estate: What You Need To Know. For assistance with Probate related matters, contact our office for a Red Flag Consultation.
General Durable Power of Attorney
What is a General Durable Power of Attorney? It is “general” because it covers a wide range of situations, such as selling real estate, purchasing items you may need, accessing your bank accounts and other investments, applying for government benefits on your behalf, etc. It is “durable” because it can remain effective even if you are deemed cognitively incompetent.
We provide each client with a worksheet which serves as a tool to help make you aware of the extent of the powers you can grant or limit in a GDPOA. Some of the scenarios may not apply to you, but our clients have found this exercise helpful and informative as they outline the powers they wish to designate to their Agent (also known as an Attorney in Fact) to perform on their behalf should they no longer be able to make those decisions for themselves. For the above reasons, we ask that you consider each section in the worksheet carefully and make a list of any questions that come to mind.
The first important question you will need to make if the choice of your agent and alternate. Since the person you are naming as your “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” under your GDPOA may have very broad powers over your property and legal decisions, it is vital to choose your agent carefully. We also highly recommend that you also choose an alternate agent in case the attorney-in-fact is unable or unwilling to serve. Frequently spouses appoint each other with a named successor agent being one or more of their children.
Durable Health Care Power of Attorney
A Durable Health Care Power of Attorney will allow you to outline the powers you wish to designate to your Healthcare Agent (also known as an Attorney-in-Fact) to exercise on your behalf should you no longer be able to make those decisions for yourself. The Power of Attorney will specifically outline what decisions your Agent can and cannot make for you. We highly recommend that you also choose an Alternate Agent in case the Attorney-in-Fact is unable or unwilling to serve. Choosing an Agent and Alternate is the first important decision you should make. Next, you should consider what medical treatments you want and/or do not want to authorize your agent to make on your behalf. For example, you can even outline autopsy and organ donation preferences.
Last Will and Testament
Creating a Last Will & Testament is one of the most critical things you can do for your loved ones. Putting your wishes on paper helps your heirs avoid unnecessary hassles, and you gain the peace of mind knowing that a life’s worth of possessions will end up in the right hands.
What is a will? A will is simply a legal document in which you, the testator, declares who will receive your assets and manage your estate after you die. Your estate can consist of big, expensive things such as a vacation home, but also small items that might hold sentimental value such as photographs. The person named in the will to manage your estate is called the executor because he or she executes your stated wishes.
A Last Will & Testament will help you identify your current assets and to articulate how you wish them to be distributed. It is possible that your will may never need to be updated –or you may choose to update it regularly. The decision is yours. Remember, the only version of your will that matters is the most current valid one in existence at the time of your death. With that in mind, you may want to revisit your will at times of major life changes. Think of pivotal moments such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary or executor, a significant purchase or inheritance, and so on. A rule of thumb: Review your will every two or three years to be safe.
Attorney Nancy A. Cogar is pleased to offer courtesy notary services to our clients (by appointment). Please contact our office at email@example.com or (423) 892-2006 to schedule a convenient time.
The Law Offices of Nancy A. Cogar
Serving the legal needs of our aging population and their families.
130 Jordan Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37421
423-892-2006 (p) | 423-892-1919 (f)