Are You Making Your Estate Planning List and Checking it Twice?

Making a listMerry Christmas!  This festive time of year is ideal time to take stock of your personal finances and  make sure you have done some proper estate planning. Having your affairs in order will lift a huge burden from your family that would otherwise face a big emotional and financial toll in probate court should something unexpected happen to you.

With some effort and planning, you can give your family the ultimate gift: peace of mind. The Street’s recent article, “The best holiday gift for your family: estate planning, gives us a quick checklist of estate planning essentials:

Wills and Trusts. These legal documents state how you'd like to distribute your estate after you are gone. You can also appoint a legal guardian if you have minor children. Without a legal will that’s up-to-date, your assets might be divided by the probate court according to state law, rather than how you would want. Dying “intestate” can create problems for your heirs, and it can be a long and expensive process.

Living Trusts. Some people prefer creating a living trust. A living trust is a legal document that places your assets into the trust for administration during your lifetime. You can name yourself as the trustee and even appoint someone else in the event you become incapacitated. When you die, the assets are transferred to your beneficiaries as you provide. The great thing about a living trust is that it is much more difficult to challenge by a claim on your wealth. Also, a living trust isn’t a public record, so your privacy is protected, and your wealth can be divided up without state oversight.

Living Wills. If you become seriously ill and are unable to make decisions for yourself at the end of your life, you will be glad you have a living will. This, along with a health care directive and power of attorney, will make sure your medical care is as you wish.

Durable Power of Attorney. Estate planning attorneys will advise you to have a trusted individual who can handle your finances and property if are disabled and are unable to take care of your own affairs.  

Life Insurance. If you own a home with a substantial mortgage and have young kids, you want to make sure you have enough life insurance to pay for their educational expenses.

Crucial documents. The original article also advises that you make sure your spouse, family, and estate planning attorney know the location of the documents they need to execute your estate according to your wishes. So be jolly this holiday season, and take these important, practical steps to make sure your estate passes easily to the next generation when needed.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.

Reference: The Street (December 4, 2014) The best holiday gift for your family: estate planning

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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
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Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.