In today’s digital age, technological advancements are revolutionizing the legal industry. One such breakthrough is the integration of Chat GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) technology into law firms. This cutting-edge language model, powered by artificial intelligence, has the potential to streamline and optimize various aspects of legal practice. By utilizing certain aspects of Chat GPT, law firms can enhance their efficiency, improve client experiences, and stay ahead in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Legal Research Made Easy
One of the most time-consuming tasks for legal professionals is conducting extensive research to build strong cases and support arguments. Chat GPT can significantly reduce the burden of legal research by providing quick access to relevant information. Lawyers can use the chat-based interface to ask questions or seek guidance on complex legal issues, and the AI model will generate detailed responses based on its vast knowledge base. This saves valuable time and allows legal professionals to focus on higher-level tasks, such as case analysis and strategy.
Automated Document Generation
Law firms deal with large amounts of paperwork. From contracts and agreements to legal opinions and briefs, Chat GPT can automate the document generation process by generating drafts based on predefined templates and specifications. Lawyers can provide the necessary inputs, such as factual details and case notes, and the AI model can generate accurate and customized documents. Chat GPT can help streamline the workflow, minimizes errors, and improves overall productivity.
Enhanced Client Communication
Effective client communication is critical for every law firm. Chat GPT can be utilized as a virtual assistant, interacting with clients through chat interfaces and addressing their inquiries in a prompt and personalized manner. This ensures clients receive timely updates and clarifications, fostering stronger client relationships. Moreover, Chat GPT can assist in providing initial legal advice, screening client inquiries, and offering general information on legal processes, thereby improving accessibility and client satisfaction.
Predictive Analytics and Case Assessment
Another valuable application of Chat GPT in law firms is its ability to analyze large volumes of case-related data and provide insights. By leveraging machine learning techniques, the AI model can identify patterns, highlight relevant precedents, and offer predictions on case outcomes. This assists lawyers in making more informed decisions and devising effective legal strategies. Furthermore, Chat GPT can assist in risk assessment, aiding in the evaluation of potential legal challenges and their associated probabilities.
New Technology Brings New Potential
The integration of Chat GPT technology in law firms has the potential to revolutionize legal practice, offering numerous benefits in terms of efficiency, accuracy, and client satisfaction. By automating tasks such as legal research and document generation, providing enhanced client communication, offering predictive analytics, and facilitating ongoing legal education, Chat GPT can empower law firms to adapt to the demands of the digital age. Embracing this AI-powered technology enables law firms to optimize their operations, deliver better outcomes for clients, and stay at the forefront of the legal profession.
It is important to note that Chat GPT is not a replacement for an educated attorney. However, it is a tool that attorneys may utilize in modern times to be more efficient in practice management.
Photo Credit: James Williams Photography
Want to know the answers to the most frequently asked questions we get from our clients? Check out the top Tressler FAQ and answers.
As a law firm, we get asked lots of questions every day. We don’t mind because we understand people make better decisions when they are fully informed. It’s one of the many ways we are committed to being different from other law firms. We never want you to feel afraid to contact our team. Afterall, you are the reason we do what we do and answering your questions is one way we can help.
These questions are the most asked for a reason, because legal and title services can sometimes be confusing, and everyone goes through moments in their life when they need a legal team they can trust.
Is there a consultation fee to speak with an attorney?
No. At Tressler, we take the time to understand your needs before taking any transactional steps. You will have the opportunity to speak with an attorney about your matter without any upfront financial obligation.
What is a retainer fee?
A retainer fee is an upfront amount of money paid in full for future services performed by our team. We keep our clients updated on the status of their allotted retainer funds as we handle their matter. Should the maximum amount be reached before your matter is complete, our team will reach out before the retainer reaches its limit to discuss next steps. Portions of retainer fees are refunded if the services you requested end up costing less than originally planned. Please reach out to our team if you have any questions about retainer fees.
Do I need an Operating Agreement for my LLC?
Yes. To protect the business’ limited liability status: Operating agreements give members protection from personal liability to the LLC. Without this specific formality, your LLC can closely resemble a sole proprietorship or partnership, jeopardizing your personal liability.
Why should I de-title a mobile home on my property?
Mobile homes have a title exactly the same as a motor vehicle. The title shows the name of the person(s) who legally owns the mobile home. The title alone does not make the mobile home a permanent part of the real estate. The de-titling process legally combines the manufactured home with the land. It is often required by lenders before financing.
Why is a title examination important in a real estate transaction?
A title is a document that shows evidence of right or ownership of real property. If you are purchasing a home or commercial property, it is important to make sure the title is reviewed. The proper transfer of ownership will depend on whether the title is clear and can help you avoid future problems if you wish to sell the property at a later date.
When a real estate dispute arises, is litigation the only option?
Disputes are possible in any legal field, including real estate. If you are dealing with any type of real estate dispute, such as a property defect or boundary dispute, you may be able to resolve the matter outside of the courtroom through negotiation. This will usually be an attorney’s first course of action, with litigation only considered if it is impossible to reach an out-of-court agreement.
Title insurance is a policy that protects you from any issues that may call your ownership into question or keep you from completing your purchase. These issues could include illegal deeds, unknown liens, forged documents, missing heirs and unknown easements. Title insurance provides financial security to address any issues that may arise.
How long does my title insurance policy last?
For a one-time fee, your owner’s title insurance protects your property rights for as long as you or your heirs own the home.
What do I need to bring to my real estate closing?
Some of the items you will need to bring to closing are a photo ID, a cashier’s check made payable to Tressler Title or wire instructions for transferring funds electronically. Don’t worry, our team will reach out before your scheduled closing day to ensure you know all the details and what to expect at closing.
Probate is a legal process that validates the last will and testament of a person who has died, appoints an executor (if one is not named in the will) and oversees the distribution of assets outlined in the will. This process occurs before the deceased’s assets can be distributed. Probate also ensures the deceased debts are paid. When the deceased does not leave behind a will, Tennesse’s intestacy laws determine how their assets will be distributed.
What happens if I die without a will?
If you die without a will in Tennessee, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state “intestate succession” laws.
How do I know if I would benefit from a trust?
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you have a net worth of at least $100,000 and have a substantial amount of assets in real estate, or have very specific instructions on how and when you want your estate to be distributed among your heirs after you die, then a trust could be for you.
We understand every situation is unique. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We would be glad to speak with you, answer your questions and learn how we can help.
An Interview with CMO Megan Climer
Learn how Chief Marketing Officer Megan Climer transformed the Tressler brand and her advice to business owners considering a brand refresh.
A new role brings new opportunities
When Megan Climer joined Tressler & Associates in August 2022, she was eager to dive into brand development. Just a couple of weeks into her new role, she began to see opportunities for Tressler to differentiate itself from other law firms in the market. In this interview, she explains what makes a brand and shares how she developed their new visual identity.
Most people think a brand is a name and logo. How do you define a brand?
Their definition isn’t wrong, just incomplete. I have spent the majority of my professional career learning what makes a great brand. A brand is a name and a logo, but I believe it offers so much more. Your brand is your unique identity. And like a person, it has exterior and interior attributes and characteristics that make it identifiable to the world. Like a person, a brand has dreams and a purpose (a vision and a mission), values, a personality, a voice, a story, and an overall essence or feeling. Really, a brand is powerful. It is the foundation that informs and supports your overall business strategy. And it can be your most valuable asset for managing growth.
What did you do first to start developing the new brand?
The first thing I did was take a detailed look at our competition and the overall market. It sounds counterintuitive to spend your time analyzing everyone else, but a competitive analysis is critical to building a brand. By evaluating our competitors, I learned where we fit into the market and the unique opportunities we had to stand out.
What did you do after you finished the competitor analysis?
The next thing I did was complete an audit of our brand. I reviewed the competitor data to see how we measured up, which is always an eye opening experience. It allowed me to see where our brand was falling short and where we had opportunities to shine.
Like many service industries, the legal industry lacks uniqueness. The brand landscape looks very similar in both styling and messaging. I have always said that if everyone else is saying it, it probably isn’t worth saying. Industry platitudes and buzz words become expectations, not differentiators. I knew if we were committed to being different from traditional law firms, our brand had to look and feel different from a traditional law firm. It was our time to break away from the industry brand “standards” and offer a new brand experience.
What inspired the new logo?
After comparing and analyzing for several weeks, I began to brainstorm ideas for how our brand style could be unique. I knew right away what visual elements did not fit our brand personality and what opportunities were available to stand out among our competitors.
I also spoke with Todd and Lisa about our culture and brand personality to get a sense of who we are and what a Tressler brand experience feels like. Todd shared some of his grandfather’s old business papers with an added sticky note that said “brand inspo.” From all of this I began to visualize what our brand style could be. Using combinations of color, texture, pattern, typography, photography, videography, illustration and tone, you can build a complete brand identity that is unique and powerful. I pulled inspo from lots of visuals and created a mood board that kick-started my design.
What did you design first?
I started with our typography. Almost all of our competitors use typography that is traditional and serious in tone. It just made sense to try to design our logo icon using lower case letters. By making the “ta” lowercase, it now feels more approachable, accessible and warm, all things we believe make up the Tressler experience. The lowercase nods to the era of typewriters (inspo from the old papers) and adds a vintage flair to the brand. I used a sans type as our accent font instead of a traditional all caps serif for our business name. Our brand now feels modernized and more relevant to today’s consumer.
It’s great to learn the logic behind the letters. What led you to choose orange as your new brand color?
This part was fun. Color psychology is actually a thing, and it is fascinating! Did you know color works at a subconscious level faster than words or images and creates a gut response? So color choices matter. For us, our previous brand colors were black, red and gray. This overall palette communicated a more bold, corporate, serious and traditional feel all things we believe do not represent who we are. It was also a common color palette used by others in our industry. By changing our colors, we could instantly add visual uniqueness and more accurately communicate our brand personality and essence to our target audience.
Here are some of the insights that influenced this decision. Orange is known as a creative, abundant, positive, passionate, secure and comforting color. The redder tones of orange can communicate strength, stamina and determination, and brown is a color that is viewed as grounding, reliable, balanced, honest, sincere and warm. From all of these attributes, we developed the Tressler orange.
What can we expect next from the Tressler brand?
We are so excited for what is to come! We just launched our new website this month. Our website partner FortyAU, helped me bring our new brand experience to life. Our website showcases our new look, but more importantly, offers a user experience unlike anyone else in our market.
Our social media will also see a refresh. These platforms will continue to be a place we tell our story and engage in meaningful ways with our audiences. Our team also plans to release a series of free digital resources to offer more education around our practice areas to include; digital downloads, blogs, webinars and a new podcast. These extra resources will all be available on our website. As a marketer, I live in creative mode. A new brand offers so many opportunities to educate, entertain and add value to our audience.
What advice do you have for business owners considering a brand refresh?
Wow, that could be a whole other interview! But I’ll do my best to keep this short. Maybe we’ll answer in more detail on a future podcast. (smiles and winks)
1. Define your goals.
When starting any new project having a goal in mind is always a great first step. Why are you choosing to work on your brand? Defining what you want your brand to do for your business will help you create a brand identity that delivers results. Are you a start-up preparing to launch, or are you a small business getting ready to roll out a new product or service? Are you trying to stay competitive and looking for ways to gain more market share, or do you already have a brand but feel it’s time for a makeover? No matter what your reasons are, declaring your motives will enable you to set goals and stay focused as you work through the process.
2. Do the research.
Get to know your target customer and analyze your competition. I didn’t mention customer analysis earlier, but they also influence and impact your identity. Because the truth is, without our customers, we have no business. A deep dive into their personality and habits can help you learn what will resonate most with them. Knowing your competition is powerful. An analysis will take some time to complete, but it is insight you can use to position your brand for lasting success in your market.
3. Be true to who you are.
Know who you are and who you want to be. Your brand is more than a hip logo or slackline. Your brand is your story, your personality, your values, your mission and much more! It is an experience, and one that should be all your own. Your brand can do so many things for your business. It should set you apart, communicate a clear message, tell a story, build credibility, connect with your audience, motivate action, create memorable experiences and loyal fans. You can start your brand refresh today by doing a simple brand audit. Ask yourself how your brand is doing? How well does it do all the things listed above? Where are there opportunities to improve, and where can YOU shine?
As Chief Marketing Officer of Tresler & Associates, Megan leads the marketing, communication and development initiatives for the Tressler brands. She works to strengthen the company’s position as a trusted leader in the legal and real estate industries.
Megan is an award winning web and graphic designer and writer with nearly two decades of business to consumer experience with large and small organizations in marketing, communications, business development, public relations, advertising and brand innovation. She’s an experienced consultant, working with large and small businesses in brand development and marketing strategy and leads brand development workshops for rising and seasoned entrepreneurs. Megan is currently working to complete her first book on brand development estimated for release in late 2024.
Everyone needs to have their estate plans in order, regardless of their age and health. Many people delay planning their estate because they’re not sure where to begin or are afraid of unknown costs. At Tressler & Associates, we take the time to understand your needs and unique situation before taking any transactional steps.
Planning your estate may feel overwhelming, but we’ve created an estate planning bundle to help getting started easier. Our team guides you through the process so you understand all your options and make the best decisions for the future.
Estate Planning Bundle
The estate planning bundle includes a will, a durable power of attorney, a health power of attorney, and a living will. These necessary legal documents allow you to record all your wishes and ensure your assets are distributed the way you want.
Before you start estate planning it helps to know what these important documents can do for you and your family.
Last Will and Testament
A will states your intentions for your assets after you pass away. In this document you will detail how you would like your assets distributed. Families with minor children can also state who will be their guardian. There are several types of wills in Tennessee, and which one is right for you will vary depending on your needs and plans for the future. No need to worry, our team can help you determine which type of will best fits your families needs, so you can keep moving forward.
Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is a type of power of attorney that allows you to appoint someone you trust to make important decisions for you should you ever be unable to do so yourself. You can choose whoever you believe is most fit for this role, such as a spouse, a family member, a friend or even your attorney. By establishing a DPOA you can determine what aspects they can control. You can divide DPOA responsibilities. You could choose one person to manage your medical care and someone else to manage your finances, or they can be the same person. Regardless of who you choose as your DPOA, you will have a voice should illness or an accident prevent you from making decisions.
Health Power of Attorney or Medical Power of Attorney
A health power of attorney or medical power of attorney is the person who will determine your medical care and treatment when you require it but are unable to communicate your wishes yourself. A DPOA for healthcare can go into effect even when you’re expected to recover from your incapacitated state. You can state what type of treatment and care you are for or against, and your DPOA for healthcare is required to follow these wishes when making your medical decisions. The document allows you to designate who can have access to your medical documents if you are hospitalized and who can provide consent for needed treatment. The treatment you want to receive may be difficult for some loved ones to accept, so you need to ensure the person you choose will respect them, even if they are difficult to make.
A living will is used to ensure you receive the end-of-life care you want when you are incapacitated. This document ensures your final wishes are protected and your family is informed when making difficult end-of-life decisions.
Your peace of mind starts here
Thinking about life after you’re gone can be hard. You’re not alone. Most find it challenging to work through all the “what if” conversations. While it can be a challenge, the time you take to make a plan ensures wishes will be respected and your loved ones are able to have the guidance and protection they need to make decisions to move forward. Our estate planning bundle offers you an easy and affordable way to start planning your future today. You will never regret having peace of mind.
In Tennessee, there are different types of deeds. First, let’s define what “deed” means. It can be confusing because the term, “Deed,” also refers to a Deed of Trust. A Deed of Trust is the document that Tennessee records to secure a property as collateral for a lender.
In short, a Deed of Trust is not the document that we are talking about. We are talking about a deed that conveys someone’s interest in real estate to another person or entity.
Types of Deeds
In our office, the most common type of deed for real estate is a Warranty Deed. It’s so common that many people do not realize that a Warranty Deed is only one specific type of deed. In real estate, there are three main types of deeds to know about. Asides from those, there are several miscellaneous types that fall under the main three.
Warranty Deed:In this type of deed, the grantor–or the seller–is providing a warranty to the grantee–or the buyer–that he or she is conveying a good and marketable title. The grantor is also stating that he or she owns the property and has the right to sell it.
Quitclaim Deed:This is the second most common type of deed that we see. With this type, the grantor makes no claims as to the title. In essence, they are saying, “Whatever interest I have in this property, I give to you.” This means that the grantor could actually have no interest in the property, 100% of the interest in the property, or any interest on the spectrum in between those two extremes. Because the grantor is making no warranties as to the title, there is little title security.
Special Warranty Deed: This type of deed is somewhere in between the two deeds above. The grantor states that they have not had any title issues while they have owned the property. This is the only guarantee in this deed. Commercial real estate transactions will often use this type of deed.
Other Miscellaneous Deeds: There are several other miscellaneous deed titles that are used, but those deeds are usually somewhat synonymous with the deeds described above.
However, it is important to know the type of deed being used so that you, as the buyer or seller, know exactly what you are guaranteeing or receiving. Our firm would be glad to help guide you to the correct Deed that should be used in your situation.
If you are unsure how your property is titled or want to see if there are better options for you, contact us and we would be glad to find the best option for your situation.
Over the course of conversations with many of our estate planning clients, one common theme occurred to us: We spend a significant amount of time with every client explaining the basics of probate and probate assets. As lawyers, we have to make sure our clients are as informed as possible before heading into court. But most of the time, knowing even the basics is helpful.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process where the court and beneficiaries settle final claims against the decedent and distribute probate assets. The county in Tennessee where the decedent lived when they died is where the court handles probate. Within that county, a specific court handles probate matters. The name of the court varies slightly from county to county.
Ultimately though, all of the probate courts in Tennessee follow the same Tennessee law, so the process is similar in each court. Every probate will be slightly different because the facts will be different for each decedent. Was there a Will? Was there a Trust? Are any estate recipients minors? Are there any creditors of the estate? There are many variations on what probate can specifically entail.
What Are Probate Assets?
The definition of a “probate asset” is important for our understanding of the probate process. This is because probate only distributes probate assets. In the most basic definition, a probate asset is something that is owned individually by the decedent. However, this definition has quite a few exceptions and additions. It may be easier to define a “probate asset” by focusing on what it is not, or by the “non-probate assets.”
Non-probate assets do not have a legally designated beneficiary. The most common example of this is life insurance. Life insurance usually has a designated beneficiary to whom the money will flow almost immediately upon a person’s death. The probate court does not consider this transfer except to note the amount of the life insurance the recipient receives.
Examples of Non-Probate Assets
One lesser-known example is a payable-on-death (POD) beneficiary for a basic checking or savings account. Most of the time, you can designate a POD beneficiary on the bank accounts you own. This will allow the bank to immediately transfer that account to your beneficiary upon your death, removing the bank account from probate.
Assets that are owned jointly by spouses are also typically non-probate assets. Homes are commonly non-probate assets. A home bought by a married couple will automatically belong to the surviving spouse. A word of caution here if you are a married couple, be sure that both your name and your spouse’s name are on the deed! If the property is only titled in one spouse’s name, this does not apply and the home would be a probate asset.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Tressler & Associates
Hopefully, this is a helpful explanation of probate and probate assets. Our attorneys would be glad to walk you through the process of discussing what probate would look like for your loved ones and strategize on how to ease that process. Quite a few assets can be removed from your probate estate by simple changes. We would be honored to show you how. For help with planning your estate, contact our estate planning attorney today.
There is a myth in Tennessee about intestacy that I hear often: if you die intestate, your property will naturally be distributed to the right people. By “right people,” they typically mean their family. While the property of an intestate decedent is distributed to your heirs, you cannot end the conversation there. Every state defines “heirs” as it sees fit. The progression of your belongings in Tennessee might not be quite what you would expect.
What Does Intestate Mean?
It’s best that we define a few important terms to begin breaking the Tennessee intestacy myth. When someone dies “testate,” it means that this person passes away with a valid Will. You can probably guess that “intestate” means dying without a valid Will.
How are Assets Distributed?
People usually make incorrect assumptions regarding the split of an estate between spouses and children. Most think that if they pass away intestate, everything will suddenly belong to their spouse. This is simply not true if you have children. If a spouse and no children survive someone who dies intestate, the surviving spouse will inherit everything.
However, if a spouse and at least one child survive someone who dies intestate, the child and the spouse will both inherit some portion of the estate. If there are two surviving children, the spouse and each child will inherit one-third of the estate. If there are more than two surviving children, the spouse will inherit one-third and the children will split the remaining two-thirds of the estate. Bottom line, if your spouse and at least one child survive you, your spouse will not inherit your entire estate unless you create a Will stating so.
Create Your Will with Tressler & Associates Today
To be sure that you distribute your property to the right people, you should have a Will that explicitly outlines your plan for the property. Hopefully, it is now clear that this is important even if you simply want everything to go to your spouse. We would be glad to walk through this process with you.
Planning your estate can help prevent future difficulties for your family. Read more about our estate planning services.
When your parents pass away, life is difficult enough. The last thing you want is to be stuck paying the mortgage on their house or risk foreclosure. It is quite common to want to sell the home as soon as possible. However, as many have found out the hard way, it’s not exactly as simple as signing a contract.
From time to time I will see a real estate contract that the children of a deceased parent have signed to sell that parent’s home. Those children can often either point to a Will showing that they are inheriting the home or the Tennessee intestacy laws state that they are inheriting the home. Either way, it seems clear that those children should have the power to sell the home. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
The best case scenario is that probate on the decedent’s estate is complete and those who have inherited the house can sell it. But I’m not talking about that situation. I’m talking about the situation when probate has not been started or when probate is not complete. Although the process for selling a home in those situations is not always identical, there are some common patterns. For instance, it is quite likely that you will need to get court approval to sell the home if probate has begun. Or, if you have not begun probate, you will probably have to open probate and then get approval from the court to sell. You can almost guarantee that we will need consent from the Tennessee Department of Revenue to sell the home and a release of potential claims from the Bureau of TennCare. If probate has not been completed, the best case scenario is that you can close on the home during the four month creditor’s period in probate and closing agent will hold your proceeds in escrow until the completion of the creditor’s period.
As you’re probably realizing, this can quickly become a complicated process. Also, I would not be doing my job if I did not mention that a Trust can avoid this. If your property is held in a Trust, even a Revocable Living Trust, it will pass outside of probate because it does not belong to the decedent, it belongs to the Trust. This simplifies the selling process immensely. However, whether you have a Trust, a Will, or no Will at all, we are equipped to walk you through this process.
In a recent blog, I discussed the 2015 Federal and Tennessee Estate Taxes. A common follow-up question to that discussion sounds something like, “My assets are nowhere near $5,000,000.00 so why do I need any help with planning my estate?”
The answer is two-fold:
1) TAX LAWS ARE NOT WRITTEN IN STONE!
Our laws change constantly and our government is always in flux. I am thankful that we live in a country where we are represented by the people of our choosing, but that means that “the people of our choosing” change every year. We do not know who will be in power or what agendas will become important in the future. We can only live in 2015. That being said, it is not difficult to see how tax laws affecting Tennesseans could change. It could suddenly become the law that all estates are subject to taxes (thankfully, this is not the current trend).
2) ESTATE PLANNING IS MUCH MORE THAN JUST TAXES.
Estate planning is more than tax law. In fact, I would say that with the majority of our clients, other topics are of greater concern. For example, making sure the correct people have control over assets or determining who will be the decision-maker are more important than estate taxes to many people. Also, privacy or creating a process that will be simple for loved ones are both common goals. There are many reasons that an estate planning attorney can be helpful, whether taxes are of concern or not. Just about everyone can benefit from some estate planning.