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Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Probate & Guardianships

Knowledgeable Chattanooga Estate Planning Lawyers Protect Your Interests

Do you have a plan for your estate?

If not, you’re not alone. Many people don’t like to think about what might happen to their loved ones after they’re gone. However, it’s critical to have a plan in place that designates how and to whom your wealth and assets will be distributed after you die. Wills, trusts, estate planning and probate are complex areas of the law and best handled with the guidance of a skilled and compassionate attorney. Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway, P.C. provides you with the peace of mind that your wealth and belongings will be fairly distributed to your heirs and beneficiaries and handled by the person you choose should you become incapacitated.

Estate planning

No matter your age, it’s never too early to start thinking about your estate plan. It dictates how your assets will be handled at the time of your death or if you become incapacitated. Depending on your situation, you may need to ask yourself the following questions when drafting your estate plan:

  • What matters most to me?
  • Who will care for my children?
  • How much money should I leave to my family?
  • If I am a business owner, who will run my business once I’m gone?
  • How do I reduce or eliminate death taxes?
  • How do I keep my hard-earned money from being wasted?

Whether you’re creating your first estate plan or revising your plans due to a recent life change, Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway, P.C. works with you to formulate a plan that’s legally sound and tailored to your objectives.

Death tax planning

We will work with you to minimize the tax on your estate.  Our objective is to listen to what you want your estate plan to be, and then place it in a tax advantaged format.  We can discuss both lifetime and death strategies that will preserve more money for your family.  What you have accumulated has already been taxed once when you earned it and our goal is to minimize or eliminate the death tax on your assets.

Wills and trusts

Though both terms are widely used, wills and trusts are distinctly different; however, each is important during the estate planning process, and though they have different purposes, wills and trusts work together to form a succinct estate plan.

  • Will. Wills go into effect after a person dies and names the individuals designated to receive their property. A legal representative is appointed to carry out your wishes regarding any property that is in your name.
  • Trusts. Trusts take effect as soon as they are created. They can be used to begin distributing your property before you die or after your death. In a trust, a legal arrangement is made that allows one person or institution (a trustee) to possess legal title to the property of another person (a beneficiary). Unlike wills, trusts only cover property referred to in the trust. A trust can also help you avoid probate.

The arrangement that’s right for you depends on your situation. Our experienced attorneys work with you to determine whether a will or a trust serves your needs more appropriately.


After a loved one dies or becomes incapacitated, assets sometimes need to be managed or distributed legally. This process is known as probate. To prevent mistakes from being made, you should work with a skilled attorney during the probate process. The loss of a loved one can be made even more complicated if your loved one’s estate plan isn’t maintained and your rights aren’t protected. We help you with the following probate issues:

  • Filing probate documents with the court
  • Assessing assets
  • Carrying out the terms of a will
  • Paying off debt and estate taxes
  • Advising executors of their duties

We understand that this is a difficult period of your life. Let us help you handle the legal issues surrounding your loved one’s estate quickly and efficiently, ensuring your loved one’s last wishes are honored.

Avoid Probate

There is little that the general public dislikes more about legal matters than probate.  People don’t understand the process and particularly do not like the cost and the delay.  We can work with you to structure you estate so probate can be avoided.  One method is using a revocable trust.  Some of the advantages of a revocable trust are as follows:

(i)       Privacy.  Avoiding probate provides privacy as to the value and extent of your assets, the identity of the persons who receive your assets, and the details of your post-death affairs.

(ii)      More expeditious administration after death.  By not having to comply with probate court formalities, there can be more expeditious administration of your affairs after your death.

(iii)     Reduces Legal Expenses.  Avoiding probate will usually reduce legal fees; less time has to be spent satisfying the requirements of the local probate court.

(iv)     Elimination of Court Expense.  Avoiding probate eliminates the court costs associated with probating the will and administering an estate.

(v)      Reduces Risk of Will Contest.  Avoiding probate also has the effect of reducing the possibility of a will contest by a dissatisfied beneficiary.  With a court supervised estate administration, heirs are given notice of all court filings, and are in effect, invited to file objections.  With a revocable trust, the situation is private and no matters are made public record.  Therefore, if a dissatisfied beneficiary wishes to challenge the will (or trust), they will have to initiate their own court action.

(vi)     Not having to probate a will in each state where you own real estate.

(vii)    Avoidance of Court Supervised Guardianship Upon Incapacity.  In the event of your mental incapacity, your revocable trust can help you avoid a court-supervised guardianship. Court supervised guardianships are cumbersome, costly and should be avoided whenever possible.

Powers of attorney

Powers of attorney are important planning documents.  In a power of attorney, you can delineate who would make financial decisions for you and who would make healthcare decisions for you if you were unable to make the decisions yourself.  Not having powers of attorney can cause your family to end up in court with a stranger making important decisions for you.


At Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway, P.C., we can also help you set up a guardianship. In the event that a loved one is no longer capable of managing financial or personal affairs due to illness or disability, the court appoints a guardian to step in and make decisions. Guardianships include property and can include minor children.

We work with you to find out what’s best for your family. Whether you need to obtain temporary or permanent guardianship for an elder or other relative, our experienced attorneys help you make the right decisions for the future.

Planning for your possessions and your loved ones

You’ve worked hard to build your legacy. You need someone who works equally hard to protect it. Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway, P.C. is here to help you make sure that the important things in your life are entrusted to the right individuals after you can no longer care for them. When you work with us, you can expect dedicated and personal service — at a price that’s affordable.

Call our Chattanooga, TN probate attorneys now

The time to start planning for the future is now. Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway, P.C. is the law firm to call for help drafting an estate plan. Our AV-rated attorneys offer flexible hours, even on nights and weekends, and we can meet with you on your time to discuss your needs. Call 423-266-7327 or Toll Free , or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.

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Office Location
  • Chattanooga Office
    537 Market Street
    Suite 202
    Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402
    Phone: 423-266-7327
    Fax: 423-267-5032