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Is the new year a good time to think about estate planning?

A lot of people in Tennessee start each new year off by making resolutions. In many cases, people make these resolutions as promises to themselves that they will make themselves better in some way, such as physically, socially or even spiritually. However, it would be a mistake to overlook the possibility of making financial improvements regarding the assets you own. For example, is the start of a new year the perfect time to think about estate planning?

The quick answer is "yes," but, in reality, any time of the year is a good time to think about estate planning. Having an estate plan is so important, yet many people never do it, or wait far too long. Unfortunately, this is often due to the fact that many people simply do not know where to start.

Are you worried about telling your child about the divorce?

You know that any disruption in your child's routine can cause major issues. Because he or she is young, a missed nap, delayed dinner, changes in environment and many other details could cause your child to feel upset and out of sorts. As a result, you may have major concerns about telling your child that you and your spouse are getting a divorce.

The way in which you approach the discussion will depend on the age of your child. For instance, if he or she is under the age of five, it is likely that a full understanding of the situation will not immediately take place. However, if your child is a little older, he or she may know enough to ask questions and know that you and the other parent will no longer live together.

The right approach to complex family law issues

Families in Tennessee, just like in any other state, can at times face complex legal issues that cause emotional reactions, as well as the stress of having to go to court. This is not something most people want in their lives. Especially during the holiday season, families who are experiencing legal problems face uncertainty and, sometimes, anger over what they need to do to get through the situation.

However, no matter how fraught with tension a complex family law issue might be, it is important to stay focused on the right approach to the problem in order to get to a resolution that, hopefully, works for all involved. For example, in a divorce case the parties may be focused, initially, on hurt feelings and a desire for retribution and revenge. But, if, instead, they focus on the legal issues that must be addressed in the divorce case - property division, child custody and support and alimony - they may be better off working through the step-by-step process of simply getting through the case and coming out the other side.

What basics do you need to know about SSD benefits?

Many of our readers in Tennessee probably know that Social Security Disability benefits help millions of people throughout the country with their financial needs, including many people here in our home state. But, many people have probably heard other "common knowledge" about SSD benefits, too, including that many initial applications for benefits are denied. For those who believe they may be able to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, knowing the basics about the process is crucial.

So, what basics do our readers need to know about SSD benefits in general, and the application process for these benefits in particular? Well, for starters, it is important to understand that SSD benefits are not "welfare." Workers in America pay into the Social Security Disability system from the wages they earn. It is a system that is in place to help workers in the event that they suffer an injury or illness that renders them unable to continue to work and earn an income. SSD benefits are more like an insurance plan than "welfare."

Fighting for compensation after a motor vehicle accident

While the vast majority of motor vehicle accidents in Tennessee are so-called "fender-benders," the reality is that any given car wreck has the potential to cause serious injuries to those involved, or even fatalities. Issues such as drunk driving, distracted driving, and drowsy driving are still prevalent on the roads and highways in our country. For those who have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, pursuing financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit may be an option.

With all of the damages that can arise in a car accident, Tennessee residents can be left with an ever-growing stack of bills from just one incident. Medical bills for serious injuries, in particular, can mount quickly, as those who suffer these injuries are oftentimes facing weeks or even months of medical treatment, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Why should an innocent victim be the one to shoulder these financial burdens?

You have an estate plan, but can it be better?

Tennessee residents who have an estate plan in place should congratulate themselves. They have done what millions of Americans put off for years and that some never get around to. However, even if you have an estate plan in place, you may be asking yourself if it can be better. Are there ways to explore upgrading and updating your estate plan?

According to a recent report, there are a few straightforward moves that can be made to improve existing estate plans. To start, those with an estate plan should review their beneficiary designations on instruments such as retirement plans and life insurance policies. You may have the right designation in your plan, but do you have the right designation with the entities that hold those accounts and policies? It is a good idea to double-check to ensure proper distribution when the time comes.

Misdiagnosis at urgent care can leave you urgently ill

Many times, when you have a physical ailment, your first resource may not be your family doctor. You may instead visit one of the many ambulatory care centers, health clinics, emergency rooms or urgent care centers. There, you may expect to receive an immediate examination and access to any diagnostic tests your symptoms may require.

However, if it is an accurate diagnosis you are expecting, recent reports show that you may have gone to the wrong place. In fact, of all the adverse safety events, diagnostic errors are the most common events in ambulatory care centers. Nearly half of all medical mistakes in outpatient care facilities involved a missed or wrong diagnosis.

Common themes when it comes to DUI defense strategies

When Tennessee residents face drunk driving charges, they are understandably apprehensive about how the case will turn out. For most people, a drunk driving charge is the most serious criminal charge they will ever face. How the case turns out can make a big difference in a person's life.

For some people, the best approach to a DUI case is to try to negotiate a plea agreement as quickly as possible and put the case behind them. However, there are other situations in which it might be best to press the prosecution and the law enforcement officials who support the case to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the charge is in fact valid. There are some common themes that come up in DUI defense cases.

Important financial moves after a divorce

Our readers in Tennessee know just how impactful a divorce can be on a person's life. People get married thinking that they'll be with their spouse forever, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. While a divorce allows spouses to move on and live their separate lives, the impact of a divorce on the ex-spouses' finances can be significant.

As a recent article noted, in the aftermath of a divorce there are certain steps that people need to take to ensure that their finances are in order. For example, those who have life insurance policies may want to change the designated beneficiary. After all, most people designate their spouse as the primary beneficiary, but they don't want their former spouse to recover their insurance proceeds after divorce. The same is true for IRAs and other retirement accounts.

What is the probate process like in Tennessee?

Many of our readers in Tennessee know that the probate process comes into play after a person dies. At that time, that person's estate must be collected, assessed and distributed. However, there are many people who don't know what the probate process is like and don't know what to expect.

So, what is the probate process like in Tennessee? Well, for small estates - typically worth less than $50,000 - the process may seem fairly simple. When it comes to a small estate, an affidavit can be filed with the probate court 45 days after the relevant death. The affidavit must state whether or not a will exists, list debts and assets, state where the decedent's property is located and who has possession, and, lastly, how notice will be provided to creditors.

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