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Probate & Estate Planning Conference for Tennessee Attorneys - Materials Only

Probate & Estate Planning Conference for Tennessee Attorneys - Materials Only

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Probate & Estate Planning Conference for Tennessee Attorneys - Materials Only

Held at the Nashville School of Law on Thursday & Friday, December 12-13, 2019

The Probate & Estate Planning Conference for Tennessee Attorneys packs two days with some of the state’s top estate planning and probate practitioners delivering critical guidance on the hottest topics and some of the most complex issues you’ll face. Your distinguished faculty will explain the very latest developments and strategies on topics such as Use of various trusts as estate planning tools, drafting wills in 2019, getting elder care paid for, duties and liabilities of personal representatives, efficient estate administration, and much, much more.

Your Tennessee Attorneys

Rebecca C. Blair

Rebecca C. Blair, founder of The Blair Law Firm in Brentwood, has developed an immensely diverse practice in 20 years. She has substantial experience in many aspects of civil litigation, including tort law, insurance coverage litigation, business litigation, and probate litigation. She is listed as a Rule 31 General Civil mediator. She was voted one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in the Mid-South in 2012 by Mid-South Super Lawyers/Memphis Magazine. She was also elected to Best Lawyers in America® for her work in Business Litigation and Personal Injury Litigation-Plaintiffs. Ms. Blair has been elected by her peers as a Mid-South Super Lawyer in the area of Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation every year since 2009. She is a past president of the Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women, a past board member of the Nashville Bar Association and a past chair of the Bench Bar Committee of the Tennessee Judicial Conference.

Cort H. Bethmann

Cort H. Bethmann is a Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor at Argent Trust Company. Cort earns trust by consistently delivering practical and proactive advice that empowers clients to accomplish their goals. Leveraging his experience in law as a practitioner, Cort tailors his recommendations in several areas including complex estate planning, strategic asset protection, directed trusts, challenging family dynamics, charitable giving strategies, and legacy planning.

Prior to Argent Trust Company, Cort served clients at Independence Trust Company as a fiduciary officer offering his legal skill set as a collaborative resource and trusted advisor for matters involving complex trusts, estate planning, evolving family dynamics, unique assets, mineral interests, timberland, and real estate.

Cort earned his Juris Doctorate (J.D.) and Masters of Law in Wealth Management (LL.M.) from Texas A&M University School of Law. He also earned an Estate Planning Certificate from Texas A&M University School of Law for satisfying rigorous requirements with a core focus in the areas of wills, estates, trusts, non-profits, taxation and fiduciary responsibility. He received his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Legal Studies from the University of Tennessee.

As a licensed attorney in Tennessee and Texas, Cort actively participates in the Estate Planning Council of Middle Tennessee, Nashville Bar Association, Nashville Bar Probate & Estate Planning Sections, Tennessee Banker’s Association Trust & Estates Legislative Committee, and the Williamson County Bar Association. Cort lives in the greater Nashville area with his wife and three daughters. He is active in his community and works with several nonprofits locally and globally.

Alan Cates

Alan Cates focuses his practice on trust and estate issues and related private wealth matters. With decades of comprehensive legal experience, he has guided individuals and their businesses in estate planning and business succession planning. Additionally, Alan has represented individual and institutional executors and trustees in virtually all sorts of litigation matters, both as defense counsel and initiating action. He has also represented taxpayers in administrative proceedings and in courtrooms and provided critical services to tax-exempt organizations. He also has served as “general counsel” to families and their businesses. Alan’s industry work includes assisting one of the largest American banks in the tax-exempt organization portion of a community development project in Chicago involving complex matters and advising a Fortune 500 bank holding company regarding trust and estate and litigation matters.

 In addition, Alan frequently presents on financial topics such as taxation, estate planning, business succession planning, and probate and trust issues across the country. He has spoken before the Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee Society of CPAs, estate planning councils, and at estate planning and planned-giving seminars at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University and the University of New Haven.

Alan is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and is a member of the Tennessee Probate Study Committee, which reviews and comments on pending legislation in the areas of trusts, estates and similar issues. Before entering private practice in 1975, Alan served as the planned giving officer for the University of Tennessee. He also served on the faculty of the National Planned Giving Institute of the College of William & Mary for more than 25 years and spoke in seminars nationally on planned giving issues and opportunities.

Michael R. Crowder

Michael R. Crowder enjoys teaming up with his clients to formulate an estate plan that meets their wants and needs and takes pride in creating wills and trusts that reflect his clients’ values and give them peace of mind regarding their legacy. Michael works hard to ensure that his clients’ assets are best utilized during their life and then smoothly passed along at death, taxes are minimized, protection from creditors is maximized, charitable intentions are fulfilled, and loved ones are provided for.

Michael particularly appreciates being an advocate for his elderly clients. He assists them in planning for, applying for, and remaining eligible for Medicaid, VA, SSI, and other benefits - he has won multiple hard-fought appeals for his clients' TennCare and SSI benefits. He also helps them negotiate, or, if necessary, litigate family disputes over property rights or other issues. Additionally, he helps clients obtain and administer conservatorships for their disabled loved ones.

Michael received his law degree from the University of Tennessee, College of Law and his undergraduate degree in Religion from Princeton University, where he studied the history of early Christianity and played offensive line on the football team. Michael and his wife, Katey, have two children, Henry and Lucy. When he's not with his clients, you can usually find Michael with his family working on a new project for their 90-year-old house in north Knoxville.

Harlan Dodson

Harlan Dodson attended college at Duke University and then came home to Nashville to study law at Vanderbilt. Since 1998, he and his wife, Margaret Behm, have been partners in the law firm they started.

Dodson is a frequent speaker and writer on business organizations, and especially limited liability companies, as well as on wills and estate planning. He has taught Estate Planning at the Nashville School of Law since 1975.

He is the author of Introductions to Estate Planning and Administration in Tennessee, an indispensable source of reference for attorneys throughout the state. Each year, Dodson revises the text to reflect developments in the law, particularly in the area of tax consequences.

He is also the editor of the West Publishing Company’s Tennessee Practice Series volumes on business formation and estate planning.

In 2012, as recognition of his outstanding contributions to the community and service to the bar, Dodson received the John C. Tune Public Service Award, the highest honor presented by the Nashville Bar Association.

Donald J. Farinato

Donald J. Farinato has been practicing law for more than 15 years. His practice focuses on the administration of all types of estates and trusts. Donald represents beneficiaries and fiduciaries in routine probate matters, as well as in complex probate proceedings and in estate controversies. He builds on his administration expertise to help clients craft individualized estate plans through Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Advance Care Plans, and other estate planning documents and techniques. Donald works with families and courts in conservatorship and guardianship matters and assists individuals with wealth transfer tax return preparation and audits. Additionally, Donald provides legal advice to businesses for various formation and operational matters.

Charles R. Frazier

Charles R. Frazier is not a Nashville native, but he fits right into the community with a strong work ethic and family values which have helped him become a great tax law, estate planning, and business law attorney. Mr. Frazier is a husband and father of two children whose humble beginnings help him relate to any client who needs legal advice to resolve their tax law, estate planning, or business law issues.

Mr. Frazier is a U.S. Army veteran who served his country proudly and with distinction before being honorably discharged. After leaving the military service, he gained much business experience as a life and health insurance agent, where he learned the values of placing his clients’ needs above his interest. Frazier went on to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration from Austin Peay State University with concentrations in finance and accounting. He tells his client’s that he would have been a CPA if he did not get into law school. Nevertheless, he was accepted to and subsequently graduated from the University of Tennessee’s College of Law.

Mr. Frazier went on to serve U.S. citizens again as an Internal Revenue Agent for the IRS. As a former IRS agent, he offers an insider’s perspective on how the IRS approaches tax audits, and he uses that knowledge to help people avoid problems and resolve them in the most painless way possible. He has extensive experience handling tax collections matters, and he can help relieve the burdens of tax debt.

Frazier is an experienced estate planning and probate administration attorney. He can help you plan your estate in a manner which erases uncertainties and provide for your family after you are gone. He understands the confusion bereaved family members find themselves in after losing a loved one.  He offers guidance through the complex maze of probate administration law to help effectively and efficiently carry out each loved one’s wishes.

Frazier is committed to using his knowledge and the experience to serve individuals with tax problems, business owners, nonprofit organizations, churches and those who want peace of mind regarding their estates.  

Scott Hurley

Scott Hurley is the principal shareholder in The Hurley Law Firm, P.C., in Knoxville. His practice focuses on civil litigation, including catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, commercial and probate litigation. Mr. Hurley has been a frequent speaker at legal and continuing education seminars on evidence, expert testimony, direct and cross examination techniques, witness preparation, jury selection and damages in personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Glen A. Kyle

Glen A. Kyle is an attorney in the Knoxville law office of Franklin & Kyle Elder Law, LLC.  Glen’s practice includes life care planning, Medicaid benefit planning, estate planning, as well as probate and trust administration.

Glen graduated with honors from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humpreys School of Law, where he was the Business Editor of the University of Memphis Law Review. Before attending law school, Glen worked for many years in retail banking. 

He is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Knoxville Estate Planning Council, the Knoxville Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association and the Knoxville Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Providers.

Patrick B. Mason

Patrick B. Mason is a founding member of the Mason Zoccola Law Firm, PLLC, where he concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning, estate and trust administration, probate litigation and corporate law.  He is a native Memphian with two wonderful children, Peter and Colleen.

Patrick earned an accounting degree in 1979 at the University of Notre Dame and a Juris Doctorate in 1986 at the Vanderbilt University School of Law.  He became a Certified Public Accountant in 1981 and has been practicing law for the last 33 years in Memphis.

When he is not practicing law, Patrick loves playing tuba with the Mullins Community Orchestra, his home church's musical ensemble.  A part of the Mullins UMC family for over fifty years, Patrick is one of the leaders of the church and invests much of his time in church activities, including singing as a baritone in the choir.  

Jeff Mobley

Jeff Mobley is a member of Howard Mobley Hayes & Gontarek, PLLC and concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning, tax planning for estates and trusts, business succession planning, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, estate administration, Will contests, resolution of disputes involving estates, and related real estate matters. Jeff is listed in the “The Best Lawyers in America” (2001-2013 editions) and “Mid-South Super Lawyers” (2005-2013 editions).  Jeff has the AV rating (highest rating) for ethical standards and legal ability from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review ratings system.

Jeff is a Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.  Jeff has served as President of the Nashville Estate Planning Council, and as Chair of the Probate Court Committee of the Nashville Bar Association.  Jeff has also served on the Board of Directors of the Nashville Bar Association. He is an Adjunct Professor at Belmont University’s College of Law and Nashville School of Law. Jeff was also listed as one of the top lawyers in Tennessee by Business Tennessee magazine (Jan/Feb 2010), one of only 8 attorneys listed as tops statewide in the area of Trusts & Estates.  Jeff was listed as one of the top lawyers in Nashville by Nashville Post magazine (Jan/Feb 2011), one of only 5 attorneys listed as tops citywide in the area of Trusts & Estates.

Julie Travis Moss

Julie Travis Moss is Of Counsel with The Blair Law Firm in Brentwood. Her practice areas include estate and trust administration, estate planning, guardianships and conservatorships, real estate, and related litigation. She also advises closely held business owners regarding general corporate matters. Her more than twenty years of diverse legal experience includes ten years as a general practitioner in Michigan and teaching legal writing at Vanderbilt Law School. Ms. Moss earned her B.A. degree from the University of Michigan and her J.D. degree from Loyola University Chicago. She is licensed to practice in the states of Tennessee, Michigan and Illinois (inactive) and is also admitted to practice before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States District Courts for the Middle District of Tennessee, the Western District of Michigan, and the Northern District of Illinois. She speaks frequently on estate planning, administration, and litigation topics, and she is a member of the Nashville Bar Association’s probate and estate planning committees. 

Michelle Poss

Michelle Poss is a 1998 graduate of the Nashville School of Law. She was licensed to practice law in 1998 and is admitted in all Tennessee Courts, the Supreme Court of the Tennessee Bar, and the United States Federal Court. Ms. Poss is a Rule 31 General Civil Mediator. She is a Tennessee Attorneys for Justice pro bono service award recipient, and a member of the Nashville Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, the National Guardianship Association, and the Conservatorship Association of Tennessee. Ms. Poss currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors of the Conservatorship Association of Tennessee and is the Tennessee affiliate of the National Guardianship Association. She is also currently serving as Co-Chair of the Nashville Bar Association Probate Committee.

Ms. Poss is a Nashville Bar Foundation Fellow. Ms. Poss has written and presented for many continuing legal education seminars including the Nashville Bar Association, the Conservatorship association of Tennessee, National Business Institute, Mental Health America and Tennessee Attorney Memo. Ms. Poss serves as a mentor for the Nashville School of Law Rigorous Writing Exercise. Ms. Poss is a former board member of Court Appointed Special Advocates and was a founding member of the St. Thomas Rutherford Murfree Society. Ms. Poss is a solo practitioner in Nashville, Tennessee offering services in elder law and probate matters including estate administration, conservatorships, guardianships, and trusts. 

Tim Takacs

Tim Takacs is recognized nationwide as a leader in the important and demanding area of elder law. His innovations have transformed the way this specialty of law is practiced in the United States. Takacs has been in private practice in the Nashville area since 1980. He is the architect of the “Life Care Planning” approach to elder law which features a team of attorneys, care coordinators, insurance experts, and others who work together to help families deal with challenges created by long life and disability. Takacs writes for and gives presentations regularly to attorneys and other professionals about elder law.

He is founder of The NAELA eBulletin, a weekly newsletter published by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He is the author of Elder Law Practice in Tennessee, a treatise for Tennessee attorneys published by LEXIS Law Publishing, and A Guide to Elder Law Practice, scheduled for publication by LEXIS Law Publishing in spring 2007. He received the NAELA

John Regan Writing Award for 2004, which is awarded by NAELA for the most original and influential article published in the NAELA Quarterly during the year. He is also a recipient of the 2003 NAELA President's Award.

Graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Vanderbilt University

School of Law, Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Certified Elder Law Specialist, Charter member and first chairperson of the Tennessee Bar Association's Elder Law Section, Member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) since 1991

M. Matthew Thornton

M. Matthew Thornton focuses on probate, trusts, and estate law practices, handling routine planning and administration, as well as more complex litigation matters. Drawing upon his broad experience and mediation training, Matthew is also a Tennessee Supreme Court Listed Rule 31 Mediator. He has successfully represented clients in negotiating disputes, mediation, and civil trials when negotiation fails to achieve his clients’ desired results. He previously served on the Executive Council of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Estate Planning & Probate Section and he has been an active participant in the shaping of new developments related to Tennessee estate law.

Matthew frequently speaks on probate law to other lawyers and community groups at venues across Tennessee and, upon request of the probate judges, occasionally serves as a substitute judge in Probate Court. He frequently offers pro bono legal advice and assistance to local charities. When he’s not in the office, Matthew enjoys outdoor activities with his family and fishing.


Day 1 — Thursday, December 12, 2019

8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
Estate and Elder Care Law Planning for Older Married Couples
Timothy Takacs 

Mr. Takacs presentation will help you:

  • Identify unique estate planning needs and opportunities of older married couples
  • Review asset protection strategies from future long-term care expenses
  • Discuss methods to protect heirs in blended families

9:00 AM to 9:10 AM
Morning Break

9:10 AM to 10:10 AM
Income Tax Planning with Trusts
Michael Crowder

10:15 AM to 11:15 AM
How to Handle Family Estate Litigation: The Unique Aspects of Probate Litigation
Patrick B. Mason

  • Preferred procedural steps in probate litigation
  • Role of mediation in dispute resolution
  • Relationship between client and attorney in the process, including assessing the need for a psychological counselor in helping to shape the litigation
  • Negotiation strategies in dealing with family litigation matters;
  • Importance of informal discovery in dispute resolution;
  • Thinking outside of the box in addressing potential solutions
  • Aligning solutions with parental intent

11:15 AM to 11:45 AM

11:45 AM to 12:45 PM
Business Succession Planning
Charles Frazier

  • Advising Family Business Owners
  • Family Business Issues
  • Planning for When to Transfer Ownership
  • How and What to Transfer, Succession Planning Methods and Business Transfer Issues

12:50 PM to 1:50 PM

Michelle Poss

In Ms. Poss’s presentation, you can expect to learn more about:

  • Practical Advice and Resources in Conservatorship Cases
  • Discussion of Fiduciary Duties
  • Recoupment Actions

1:50 PM to 2:00 PM
Afternoon Break

2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Planning Opportunities and Challenges, 2019 and Beyond
Harlan Dodson

Mr. Dodson will offer tips and strategies for drafting wills in 2019 and beyond, including drafting “dos and don’ts,” building flexibility into the plan, “must-have” provisions, and the need to keep your clients current on their wills and estate plans.

3:05 PM to 4:35 PM
Ethical Consideration for the Probate Trial
Scott Hurley


Day 2 — Friday, December 13, 2019

8:00 AM to 9:00 AM
Tennessee Investment Services Trust
Alan L. Cates

The "Tennessee Investment Services Trust" is Tennessee ‘s version of a self-settled "Domesticate Asset Protection Trust". As the concept of such an asset protection device runs counter to centuries of law as to self-settled trusts, care must be taken in the preparation and funding of the trust. This presentation will highlight opportunities for use of this planning tool.

9:00 AM to 9:05 AM
Morning Break

9:05 AM to 10:35 AM
Conflicts of Interest in Estate Planning and Probate Practice
Cort Bethmann

10:40 AM to 11:30 AM
Mediation in a State Setting
Matthew Thornton 

11:30 AM to 12:00 PM

12:00 PM to 12:50 PM
Creditor Claims Issues in Estates
Julie Travis Moss

Tennessee’s creditor claim laws can confound even seasoned attorneys. Ms. Moss’ presentation will cover the ins and outs of creditor claims, including proper notice to creditors; filing and defending claims; payment of claims, including priority for payment, what assets are available to satisfy claims and insolvency issues.

12:55 PM to 1:45 PM
Probate Case Law & Legislative Update
Rebecca Blair 

During her Legislative Update, Ms. Blair will cover the recent changes to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, the new oath of Fiduciary, the new requirement for Verified Petition for Letters of Administration or Testamentary, and the updates to the Uniform Trust Code. Additionally, her Caselaw update will include a discussion of all pivotal 2019 Tennessee appellate Court decisions affecting probate practice.

1:45 PM to 1:55 PM
Afternoon Break

1:55 PM to 2:55 PM
Long-Term Care Advance Planning
Glen Kyle

According to the American Health Care Association, nearly half of all Americans will need long-term care at some point in their lives. In fact, one in five over the age of 50 is at a high risk of needing long-term care within the next 12 months. Let Mr. Kyle give you some tips on helping your clients meet their long-term care needs.

  • Durable power of attorney for financial matters 
  • Health care power of attorney 
  • Special needs trust 
  • Advance medical directives 
  • Living will 
  • “Do not resuscitate” (DNR) orders and organ donation considerations 
  • Wills and trusts

3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Estate Planning with Trusts in Tennessee
Jeff Mobley

Trusts are powerful tools that can be used to achieve specific estate planning goals, regardless of the size of your client’s estate. Over the past several years Tennessee has enacted cutting-edge legislation regarding Tennessee trust laws. This presentation will walk you through the various types of trusts used in Tennessee and will discuss recent legislative changes, creditor rights regarding trusts, the taxation of trusts, and the use of various trusts as an estate planning tool. 

4:05 PM to 5:05 PM
Modifying Irrevocable Trusts
Donald Farinato

As tax and substantive laws evolve and family dynamics change, estate planners can encounter irrevocable trusts that require modification to better serve the current and future needs of the beneficiaries.  This presentation will examine options for modifying irrevocable trusts by considering alternatives based on the language in the trust instrument and outlining nonjudicial and judicial options available under the Tennessee Uniform Trust Code.

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