Why Do You Need an Estate Plan?

Trusts and estate planningThis article gives the example of a businessman who had named his son as the nominee in all his investments. Since the son was managing all the father's investments, it was convenient. But since the businessman passed away without making a will, now his daughter is finding it difficult to prove that she, too, has a right over her father's investments. In fact, in the case of the father's equity investments, the daughter may not get anything. The daughter has to get a judge involved, which is cumbersome and can get sticky.

One of the big reasons to create and estate plan is to distribute the wealth as you want and avoid many of the headaches and expenses for your heirs, especially when you have immovable properties and disputes over their value. This caution is discussing in a recent article in The Business Standard titled "Why you should make a will." If there is no estate plan in the form of a will or trust and there is more than one legal heir, the distribution of assets is conducted by the court under probate law. This can be expensive, time-consuming and cumbersome.

Does the estate plan need to be in a specific format?  

A properly drafted trust should address your unique circumstances and both the will and a trust must be properly signed and attested for it to be effective.

While an estate plan can be written in any language, the words should be clear and unambiguous so that there's no question about the authors intentions. The assets in the trust should be transferred to the trust and the trust language such designate their distribution; this could be over multiple generations especially if the asset is an IRA.. The person executing the estate plan should sign it, and it should be witnessed by two who saw the trustmaker or testator sign the trust or will. The Business Standard reminds us to avoid a conflict of interest and not have a beneficiary or heir serve as a witness to the estate plan. Your estate planning attorney can help you with this.

Does a estate plan need to be registered?

Neither a trust nor a will isn't needs to be registered making it easy to amend the estate plan if circumstances should change. If the terms of your estate plan disinherit an heir make sure the plan is in a safe place so that it would ‘disappear’ when it is needed by your successor trustee or personal representative.

What about an the successor trustee or personal representative?

The most important appoint you make in drafting your estate plan is your decision of who to appoint as your successor trustee for your trust and personal representative your will. Your choices include a family member, friend, attorney, or another individual. The successor trustee and personal representative are tasked with carrying out the instructions in the trust and will for the distribution of the property and other asserts.  The trust has the added flexibility of addressing how trust assets should be distributed during your incapacity.  For more answers to questions like these, take a look at the original article and speak to an experienced estate planning attorney.

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 Business Standard (October 19, 2014)  "Why you should make a will"

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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.