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SmartBusiness’ article on Estate Planning

Often, when I’m asked by people to explain what I do for living, I get a sense that they’re sorry they asked. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that no one enjoys a conversation about death – especially their own! Maybe it could be their mistaken impression that with the estate tax exemption now set at $5 million per person for the next two years that there is no longer a compelling reason to consult an attorney about estate planning. That’s simply not the case. Putting aside the issue of estate taxes, failure to properly plan still can mean unnecessary expense, confusion and conflict for the loved ones you leave behind.

SmartBusiness wrote a timeless article that highlighted the fundamentals of a “well-thought-out estate plan,” with topics that everyone should consider – whether they are a prince or a pauper.  Add to that that this article agrees with everything I have been preaching for the last 15 years of my practice and I couldn’t resist offering you a review.  Here it is:

  • Why do you need an estate plan? A comprehensive estate plan ensures that your estate id distributed according to your wishes, provides protection for your in the event of your own disability, and allows you to plan for minor children, pets, and charitable causes.

  • Can I write my own will? You certainly can, and there are many online sites to help you do so! However, as in most things of life, you do get what you pay for. Last week I reviewed a will for a gentlemen in which he’d had ‘helped himself. I had to diplomatically point out to him that he had a fool for a client since his will was not properly witnessed.  He had no ideas what the laws of Virginia were.  However, it is no secret to anyone that improperly drafted or hand-written wills are frequently are contested and invalidated in court. If you don’t know what you’re doing, the outcome could be so much different than you expected.

  • What should every estate plan have? SmartBusiness recommends financial and health care powers of attorney and a living will. I agree, but would expand that list to include at least a Last Will and Testament.

  • What about trusts? Many people choose to create trusts to help their heirs avoid probate.  There are so many more equally relevant reasons to create a trust that go beyond the probate issue however, not the least of which is that trusts can help shield assets from loss to due to unforeseen circumstances, such as the bankruptcy, divorce or lawsuits of your heirs.

  • What mistakes do people tend to make in estate planning? The writer points out two common mistakes: failure to plan for their personal effects, and failure to review and update their plans over time.

 

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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.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
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Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Coronavirus/Covid-19
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.