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Knoxville Family Law Blog

Should you date while divorcing?

The divorce process is different for everyone. If the split was fairly amicable, then the couple may be able to settle everything within a few months. For more complicated divorces where each spouse possesses significant assets, a divorce could take well over a year

You need to take care of your emotional health regardless of how long the divorce takes. Some people think they will feel better about the separation if they start to date in the middle of the court proceedings. In general, you will want to wait until the divorce is final before you get a boyfriend or girlfriend again. 

Negotiating for a successful divorce

When people in Tennessee decide to divorce, they may fear the potential fallout of ending their marriage. When people think of divorce, the first thing that comes to mind may be a bitter court battle. However, many people are able to achieve a resolution of their issues at a lower cost and in a shorter time. While the legal, financial and emotional consequences of divorce are always significant, the behavior of both participants in the separation can make a major difference in how people emerge from an unhappy marriage.

Collaborative divorce techniques can help divorcing spouses and their attorneys work together to reach a negotiated solution. People can move ahead from seeking to "win" the divorce to working toward a suitable resolution. This can be particularly important for people with children since both spouses will need to continue a co-parenting relationship long after the marriage is over. By reviewing the history of how both spouses related to each other while married, people can stay alert for potential pitfalls that could arise during divorce negotiations. Issues that were sensitive during the marriage can also be sensitive after. Some of these may be occasions when it is better to let attorneys take the lead in the negotiations.

estate planning for art collectors

For some of the people living in Tennessee, collecting art is a passion, not just a hobby. Accordingly, these people spend a considerable amount of time searching for beautiful works of art to add them to their collection. However, plenty of art collectors don't take the time to think of what would happen to their precious art collection when they pass away.

Art collectors who don't address what they want done with their collection upon their passing risk subjecting their family to extra costs. This is in part due to the fact that the family might have to give the IRS higher estate taxes. Another reason is that an unclear estate plan can lead to conflict within a family and ensuing litigation.

Important information about special needs trusts

A special needs trust could be an effective estate planning tool for parents of disabled children. This type of trust can be used to help maximize the child's quality of life both now and into the future when a parent may no longer be around. By placing assets inside of the trust, a child can have access to funds for entertainment and other purposes without losing access to government benefits.

The assets will be managed by a trustee, and the trustee could be a family member or a financial professional. It is possible to have more than one trustee overseeing trust assets. In some cases, the grantor of the trust can direct where funds left in the trust go after the beneficiary passes away. This is generally true if parents create a third-party trust. In such a scenario, it is funded by assets not owned by the beneficiary.

Retirement funds can be contentious in a divorce

Retirement funds are often the largest assets owned by a married couple in Tennessee. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that dividing these accounts can be complicated during a divorce. According to a survey of divorce attorneys, retirement accounts are one of the three most difficult issues to resolve at the end of a marriage. The other leading concerns were also financial -- business division and alimony payments.

People spend years building up their retirement accounts, so they may be hesitant to sacrifice even a portion of these funds. However, reaching an agreement is not the only issue at stake when it comes to dividing retirement funds. It's also important to go through the process correctly in order to avoid significant costs, including penalties, fees and taxes. The divorce decree is not sufficient to divide workplace accounts like 401(k)s and pension plans. Instead, a special court order called a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) must be obtained in order to direct a plan administrator to divide a retirement fund. A separate QDRO is required for each fund that will be divided.

7 common reasons grandparents choose to adopt

You probably recognize that no two families are exactly the same. Even though you successfully parented your child into adulthood, you may have additional work to do. That is, you may need to adopt your grandchildren to ensure they have the care they need to get through childhood. 

Choosing whether to adopt a grandchild is a deeply personal decision. Before you begin adoption proceedings, you should understand your rights and responsibilities as an adoptive parent. Nonetheless, choosing to step into the shoes of your child and raise his or her children is incredibly noble. Here are seven common reasons grandparents choose to adopt their grandchildren. 

The process of altering powers of attorney

Estate owners in Tennessee have the right to revoke a power of attorney (POA). This is true even if the POA was originally intended to be durable. At any time, a grantor can write a letter saying that the document has been terminated. The termination becomes official as soon as the attorney-in-fact receives it. It is important to note that the attorney-in-fact has no right to maintain his or her power after it has been revoked.

However, there may be situations in which power is not relinquished voluntarily. In such a scenario, multiple copies of the revocation letter should be created and sent to applicable parties. For example, if a bank receives a copy of the letter, it will know to question any action taken by the current attorney-in-fact. Sending a copy of the letter directly to the attorney-in-fact can also be effective. Unless the letter is sent back, it is hard to prove that proper notice was never received.

How to avoid common estate planning errors

People in Tennessee who are creating an estate plan can take steps to avoid three common mistakes. The first is not leaving a list of all assets and how they can be accessed. Even people who create a list can make the mistake of leaving important items off. From bank to brokerage accounts and life insurance policies to digital assets, such as Instagram accounts, people may have many assets that are protected by passwords as well as other personal information ranging from names of pets to first teachers and more. On top of that, there may be additional assets that have sentimental value. Everything should go on the list.

Failing to correctly designate beneficiaries is another common error. Many people are unaware that some assets, such as retirement accounts, must be passed down using beneficiary designations. Saying what should happen to these assets in a will or a trust is not sufficient, and if other documents contradict the beneficiary designation, the beneficiary designation overrides them. This could lead to a situation in which an unintended person gets the asset, or it ends up in probate or in a legal battle.

Tips for parents to give children stability after divorce

Some Tennessee parents who are going through a divorce may be considering the pros and cons of the birdnesting arrangement for child custody. Also known as nesting, this approach involves parents taking turns living in the family home while the children continue to live there full time. Most people cannot afford three homes, so they usually take turns living in one apartment nearby.

This technique can allow children to ease into the divorce with the least amount of upheaval. However, experts caution that birdnesting needs to be a temporary arrangement of no more than three to six months. Longer periods of time may encourage children to think their parents may reconcile. The arrangement may also put a strain on the divorcing spouses even if the split is amicable.

How to estate plan for less liquid assets

Tennessee residents who are going through the estate planning process may face a variety of challenges. One of them might be determining how to pass assets such as jewelry or artwork. These types of assets tend to be less liquid, and they also tend to be harder to value or keep track of. However, it is critical to come to a proper valuation whether an asset is to be transferred or sold.

Ideally, artwork or similar assets will be appraised by an independent professional who is certified by the The Appraisers Association of America or a similar group. Relying on the advice of a former owner or an online forum may make it harder to get accurate advice. If an item is given an incorrect value, it may result in unfavorable decisions related to how it is insured or dealt with as part of an overall estate plan.

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