Welcome to the Law Offices of Stewart M. Crane
I hope that you find my website to be helpful and informative. I have been an attorney in East Tennessee for more than 25 years.I have limited my practice to adoptions, estate planning, guardianship and conservator ships, and business law.During that time, I have helped many clients adopt children and adults, plan their estates, establish guardianship and conservator ships, and administer estates.I have also helped start-up business owners, as well as owners of established businesses with the legal issues that every business owner confronts.
If you need the services of an attorney, please contact me to discuss your concerns. After a brief conversation, I can determine whether I can help you. Then we can schedule an appointment to discuss your matter further.
Meeting you in person is important, but if you are located a great distance from my offices, I will minimize your trips as much as possible. If I determine that I cannot assist you, I will provide contact information for other attorneys who may be able to assist with your matter.
I meet clients at my conference space in the Cedar Bluff area of Knoxville. I am available to meet clients at other locations such as their homes or offices, especially if it is difficult or inconvenient for them to travel to Knoxville.
Parking at my Cedar Bluff office is free and close to the entrance of the office building. It is easily accessible for persons with physical challenges. If clients wish to discuss estate planning, it is often convenient to meet them at their homes where important documents can be accessed easily.
Thank you for visiting my website. I look forward to speaking with you when you have need for my services now or any time in the future.
ABOUT THE FIRM
Stewart Crane is a solo practitioner and has represented clients in most counties of East Tennessee and in some counties in Middle Tennessee for over 25 years.
He limits his practice to the areas of adoptions, estate planning, estate administration (probate), and business law.
He seeks to protect the interests of his clients with cost-effective legal solutions while avoiding, if possible, unnecessary, costly litigation.
As a member of the Tennessee, Knoxville, and Loudon County Bar Associations, Stewart Crane holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
He and his wife are Tennessee natives and have lived in the Knoxville, TN, area since the 1970’s. They attend Two Rivers Church in Lenoir City, Tennessee.
- Estate Planning
- Estate Administration (Probate)
- Conservatorships and Guardianships
- Business Law
Stewart Crane’s law firm specializes in five main practice areas. These are represented in the boxes to the left, as well as in the links below:
OVERVIEW OF PRACTICE:
At the law firm of Stewart Crane, clients benefit from twenty-five years of legal experience in the practice of law. Protecting the interests of clients with cost-effective legal solutions while avoiding, if necessary, costly litigation is the goal of this law practice.
Adoptions: Contested and Uncontested
Because of his interest and experience in adoption law, Mr. Crane was co-drafter of the 2003 Tennessee Adoption Statutes and has taught legal education classes on adoption to other attorneys in East Tennessee. Besides Tennessee adoptions, he has worked on out-of-state, and international adoptions, and has worked with birth parents, adoptive parents, and many adoption agencies.
By planning your estate common problems associated with estate proceedings can be avoided and you can make an estate plan that fits your family’s particular needs and circumstances. As an attorney with twenty-five years practice in estate planning, Mr. Crane has assisted hundreds of families in planning their estates. In addition, he has presented estate planning seminars to other East Tennessee attorneys.
Estate Administration (Probate)
Estate administration refers to collecting, inventorying, and appraising the assets of the deceased, as well as filing and paying estate taxes and distributing any remaining assets to beneficiaries. Mr Crane can assist you in administering the estate or trust of a deceased person, or advise you if you have concerns about an estate from which you expect to benefit.
Conservatorships and Guardianships
Conservators and guardians are appointed by the courts for the person and/or property of a disabled person or for minor children. If an elderly member of your family is no longer able to sign a power of attorney, he or she will need a conservatorship to handle his business and personal affairs. A child may need a guardian to manage his financial affairs and/or to protect and manage his daily needs.
Consulting with an attorney before entering into a business transaction is much less expensive than the costs of repairing the damage if problems arise in a business due to poor planning or organization. Mr. Crane can assist you with legal consultation for your new or ongoing business.
Since starting my law practice in 1985, I have worked on hundreds of adoption cases in East Tennessee, including working with birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoption agencies. Because of my involvement in, and knowledge of, Tennessee adoption law, I was a co-drafter of amendments to Tennessee’s adoption statutes in 2003. I have also taught continuing legal education classes for other attorneys on adoption issues.
The following are types of adoptions that commonly occur:
Contested Adoption: a parent of a child refuses to allow his/her child to be adopted
A common situation involves a mother divorced from or never married to her child’s father. When she marries or remarries, her new husband wishes to adopt the child. If the biological father refuses to consent to the adoption, the mother and her husband may sue the father for termination of his parental rights. Contested adoptions are expensive because of the large amount of time they require, and the attorney cannot guarantee the outcome.
Uncontested Adoption involving adoptive parents and a child related to one of them
If adoptive parents want to adopt a child who is closely related to one of them and if the child’s parents give their consent to the adoption, the adoption proceeding will be relatively simple, and therefore relatively inexpensive.
Uncontested Adoption involving adoptive parents and a child not closely related to either adoptive parent
This type of adoption will be more expensive because a home study of the adoptive parents’ home by a licensed clinical social worker or child-placing agency is required. In addition, legal proceedings are required for the child’s biological parents to give their consent to the adoption.
International Adoption: requirements of the immigration laws of the United States and the adoption laws of the child’s home country must be obeyed
Most often the adoption occurs in the child’s home country, after which the child is brought to the United States. Adoptive parents usually engage an attorney or other legal representative to assist them with the adoption proceedings in the child’s home country. Adoption agencies helping with foreign adoption proceedings often assist adoptive parents to comply with American immigration laws. A very simple and inexpensive legal proceeding called a “readoption” may be necessary to make a foreign adoption legally effective in Tennessee. Adoptions of children who are not citizens of the United States are somewhat expensive because of the costs of travel to and from the child’s home country.
Adults may be adopted by other adults. Adult adoptions are sometimes done after a child reaches age 18 when one of the child’s parents refused to consent to his/her adoption earlier. Adult parents are not required to consent when an adult is adopted. The only person who must consent to the adoption of an adult is the adult who is being adopted.
Mr. Crane has more than twenty (20) years of experience with adoptions. He will be pleased to discuss your adoption case with you.
Why should you plan your estate now?
The best time to plan your estate is while you are not under the pressure of poor health, time constraints, or other family life stress.
Every adult should have an estate plan. Your estate plan should provide for the management of your financial and personal affairs if you are unable to do so, and for the disposition of your estate after your death.
It is also important to plan for the possibility of becoming disabled and unable to carry on your financial affairs. Failure to plan for disability by using such documents as powers of attorney, living wills, and trusts often results in more expense, inconvenience, and distress than a failure to plan for death.
Your estate plan may consist of some or all of the following documents:
General Power of Attorney: A General Power of Attorney authorizes a person or business to manage your financial affairs for you if you lose the ability to do those things yourself.
Power of Attorney for Health Care: A Power of Attorney for Health Care authorizes someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
If you do not make Powers of Attorney, your family members may be forced to ask a court to have you declared to be disabled (incompetent), and to appoint a conservator to manage your financial affairs and make healthcare decisions for you. Conservatorship proceedings are expensive and slow, and a conservatorship is cumbersome and expensive to manage. They are usually commenced in a time of great distress for a family, such as when a family member has had a stroke, or is beginning to exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. No family should have to deal with the expense and stress of legal proceedings at such a time. Powers of Attorney, on the other hand, are signed before such a problem arises. They are much less expensive than conservatorship proceedings, and they are intended to make court proceedings unnecessary.
Living Will: You should also sign a Living Will which states your wishes for your medical care if you are unable to make medical decisions and if you have a terminal condition. A Living Will keeps your family members from having to make the decision to terminate or not begin artificial life support, because you have already stated in advance the circumstances in which you do not want artificial life support.
Will: Everyone should make a Will. A Will tells the person who will carry out your wishes what to do with your estate after your death. A Will must be presented to the Probate Court and established as the Will of the person who made it before it is legally effective. This process of presenting a Will to a Probate Court and establishing it as a deceased person’s Will is called “probate.” See Probate and Estate Administration.
Revocable Living Trust: More and more people are interested in avoiding estate administration (probate) proceedings by transferring their property to Revocable Living Trusts before their deaths. Estate administration proceedings can be lengthy and expensive, but that is not always the case. Many times they are relatively quick and inexpensive. Avoiding estate administration proceedings is almost always a desirable result, but a Revocable Living Trust also provides for the management of your estate before your death. The person or business who carries out your wishes as stated in your Revocable Living Trust is called the Trustee. A Revocable Living Trust does not provide a legal means for avoiding income taxes, but it can include provisions to reduce or eliminate taxes on your estate after your death. It cannot shield your assets from your creditors. A Revocable Living Trust can also provide for the management of property for the benefit of minor children and/or persons who are disabled. If you have minor children, you should create a Trust for the benefit of your children because children cannot own property. The Trustee can manage the property in the Trust for your children and distribute the property to them at times selected by you. For example, you may provide that the Trustee will pay your children’s college expenses, and distribute one-third of any remaining portions of their shares to them when each of them reaches age 25, one-half at 30, and the remainder at 35.
Special Needs Trust: A “Special Needs Trust” may be established to provide for a disabled person. This type of trust is used to hold funds for the benefit of the disabled person while he/she is receiving government benefits. The Trustee can use the funds in the Trust to provide for the disabled person’s needs which are not covered by the government benefits. If a Special Needs Trust is not established for the disabled person, leaving money and/or property directly to the disabled person may cause him/her to be ineligible for government benefits until the money and/or property have been spent for the person’s needs.
Nomination of Guardian of Minor Child: If you have minor children, you may designate the person(s) whom you wish to be the guardian(s) of your children in a written instrument. By signing such a written instrument, you, not a judge, determines who will be your children’s guardian. If you do not sign a document designating the person(s) whom you wish to be the guardian(s) of your minor children, a judge will appoint a guardian who will likely be a member of your or the other parent’s families.
Estate plans may be relatively simple or extremely complex depending on the value of your estate and the complexity of your plans for the disposition of your estate after your death.
Mr. Crane can help you to create the documents, such as a will, living will, general power of attorney, power of attorney for health care, and possibly a trust or trusts, which will meet your need for an appropriate estate plan.
ESTATE ADMINISTRATION (PROBATE)
When a person dies, his/her debts and taxes must be paid, and his/her property must be given to the persons who are entitled by law to receive it. The process by which these things are done is called estate administration. If the deceased person left a Will or a Trust, the deceased person’s property will be given to the persons whom the document designates to receive it. If the deceased person did not leave a Will or a Trust, the deceased person’s property will pass to those persons designated by state law to receive it.
Before an estate can be administered, the deceased person’s Will must be admitted to probate, if he/she left a Will. A person or business, such as a bank or trust company, must be appointed to administer the estate. If the deceased person left a Will, the person or business will almost always be named in the Will. If the deceased person did not leave a Will, the Probate Court will appoint a person or business to administer the estate. Usually the person who is appointed will be a relative of the deceased person, such as the surviving spouse or a child who is an adult.
If a deceased person left his/her estate in a Trust, the person or business named as Trustee will administer the Trust. A Trust is almost always administered without proceedings in the Probate Court.
Estate and trust administrations can be relatively simple or very complicated. The most common reason an estate or trust administration becomes complicated is quarrels among the beneficiaries. This can be avoided with good estate planning.
As an estate planning attorney with extensive experience in estate and trust administrations, I have presented continuing education classes about estate administration to other East Tennessee attorneys.
If you need assistance in administering the estate or trust of a deceased person, or if you have concerns about an estate or trust from which you expect to benefit, Mr. Crane will be pleased to consult with you.
Call 865-539-8282 to schedule an appointment.
If an adult cannot manage his/her personal and financial affairs, that person is legally disabled. A conservator must be appointed for a person who is legally disabled unless the person signed a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Durable and General Power of Attorney or similar documents before becoming disabled. A conservatorship is established by filing a petition for appointment of a conservator with the proper court. The court in which the petition is filed will appoint a guardian ad litem, which is similar to a court-appointed attorney for the disabled person. A doctor or licensed psychologist must file a report with the court which proves that the person is disabled. If the court finds that the person is legally disabled, then the court will appoint a conservator for the disabled person.
Conservators are appointed for the person and/or the property of a disabled person. The conservator of the person of a disabled person is authorized to obtain medical treatment and make medical decisions for the disabled person. The conservator of the property of a disabled person is authorized to make financial decisions for the disabled person and to manage and preserve the disabled person’s property. The same person is usually the conservator of the person and the property of the disabled person, but this is not always the case.
Please contact Mr. Crane if you are considering establishing a conservatorship.
Call 865-539-8282 to schedule an appointment.
Courts appoint guardians for children under the age of eighteen (minor children) in many different situations. A guardianship is established by filing a petition for appointment of a guardian in the proper court. Two of the most common reasons for appointing a guardian for a minor child are:
a child is living with someone other than the child’s parents,
a child has received an inheritance.
Minor children must have guardians because the law does not permit them to make contracts, make important decisions by themselves, or receive inheritances directly.
If a child is living with someone other than the child’s parents, the person with whom the child is living should be appointed as the child’s guardian so that that person can register the child for school, obtain medical treatment for the child, and obtain coverage for the child under the guardian’s health insurance. A person with legal custody of a child may register the child for school and obtain medical treatment for the child, but most health insurance companies will not allow a person with only legal custody of a child to carry that child on the legal custodian’s health insurance policy.
If a minor child receives an inheritance, a guardian must be appointed by a court to receive the inheritance. The guardian must hold the inheritance, invest it if it is money, file annual accountings with the court which appointed the guardian, and give the inheritance to the child when the child reaches the age of eighteen. In most situations guardians who hold a minor’s inheritance must obtain a bond to insure that the inheritance is protected.
Why do I need an attorney when starting a business?
The primary legal concern of most persons who are starting a business, or who have already started a business, is personal liability for the obligations of the business. Mr. Crane can assist you in creating a legal structure for your business which will limit your personal liability for the debts and other obligations of your business enterprise. Some legal business structures also have features which can be used to reduce taxes on your estate after your death. Because of his experience in business transactions, Mr. Crane has knowledge in addition to his legal knowledge which may be helpful to you in making the important initial decisions related to starting your business.
Why will I need an attorney after I have started my business?
After a business is established it will continue to need legal counsel. Records must be kept current. Transactions with other parties, such as leases or purchases of property, should not be done without the assistance of an attorney. Consulting with an attorney before entering into a transaction is much less expensive than the costs of repairing the damage if the transaction goes wrong.
Knoxville Office: 9111 Cross Park Drive,
Knoxville, TN 37923
Mailing Address: 575 Pickel Rd,
Loudon, TN 37774