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The 'last straw' before divorce is often not dramatic

Couples -- or often just one spouse -- arrive at the conclusion that it's best to end their marriage for all kinds of reasons. Often, people talk about the "last straw." However, that last straw is often proceeded by months or even years of problems.

As one psychologist and family mediator says, these problems "have continued to reoccur over time until one spouse finds it more painful to stay in the marriage than the anticipated pain of leaving." The last straw may be a realization of that rather than any particular event.

The new year is a good time to review your estate plan

The new year is a good time to review your estate plan and determine whether any changes that occurred last year require changes or additions to your documents.

You may not need to make any additions or modifications. However, it's wise to at least determine whether any are required. Below are some questions to consider.

Don't risk contempt of court by violating divorce-related orders

Divorces aren't necessarily over once all the agreements are finalized. These documents are signed by a judge and are, therefore, court orders. Any signatories to those orders are required to abide by them or risk being in contempt of court.

Following are the most common areas where divorced people are held in contempt of court:

You made your will, but was it properly executed?

You knew that you wanted to take steps to protect your family and your assets in the event of your death, so you created a will. It is the most basic part of an estate plan. The information that a will contains can ensure your final wants and wishes are honored; that is, of course, if you properly execute your will.

What does properly executed mean? Doesn't just signing a will make it a legally binding document? In the state of Tennessee, signing a will does make it a valid document, if and only if it is signed -- also referred to as properly executed -- in the right way.

What provisions should you include in your parenting plan?

One of the most challenging aspects of co-parenting after separation and divorce for many people is not having control over how your ex cares for your children during their time together. No two parents have identical parenting styles or rules for their children.

Some differences are fine, and kids typically learn to adjust to things being somewhat different in each home. However, if you're concerned that you and your co-parent have significantly different expectations or disciplinary practices for your kids, you can, and perhaps should, incorporate some provisions in your parenting plan regarding discipline and other parenting guidelines.

What Tennessee co-parents need to know about relocation

Whether you have sole physical custody of your children and your co-parent has visitation rights or the two of you share custody, the decision to move some distance away may cause legal complications.

Maybe you've stayed near your co-parent for a time following the divorce, so your kids have been able to see their other parent or stay with them frequently. However, you'd like to make a change in the new year.

You can speed up the inheritance process on some of your assets

By having a well-thought-out and professionally drafted estate plan, you help ensure that your loved ones and other beneficiaries will inherit your assets as you intend. You also help minimize the time, expense and stress of settling your estate for your family. Further, you can put powers of attorney in place to make sure that people you trust will handle your financial obligations and oversee your health care wishes if you're incapacitated and unable to do these things.

In addition, there are some important steps you can and should take to help important assets be quickly and smoothly transferred to those you designate without having to go through probate. Two important ones involve joint ownership and beneficiary designations.

Tips for sharing custody during the holidays

If this is your first holiday season since your divorce, you and your co-parent will likely need to do some extra planning to help things go as smoothly as possible as you each make plans to spend time with your kids. Extra patience is also a requirement. Things aren't going to go perfectly, and there may be some misunderstandings and miscommunication.

Flexibility is often necessary. Even if your co-parent seems to have done something to intentionally aggravate or inconvenience you, don't respond in kind. That will only keep the pattern going and -- most of all -- end up hurting the kids.

What is the difference between Chapter 13 and Chapter 7?

Are you one of the many Tennessee residents who struggle with debt? Do you feel that you have no way out of your current situation? Guess what? That may not be true. Bankruptcy may offer the relief you are looking for.

There are two types of bankruptcy available to consumers: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. They are very different in what they accomplish. How does each of these forms of bankruptcy work?

How can you help fund your heirs' education?

One of the goals that many people have when developing their estate plan is to provide money for the educational needs of their children, grandchildren and possibly even future generations. Often, this is accomplished by setting up one or more educational trusts.

There are two key types of educational trusts: individual and pot. Individual trusts, as the name suggests, are set up for a specific person's education. Pot trusts are intended to be used by multiple people.

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