What Are the Most Popular Estate Planning Trusts to Use in Virginia?

estate planning

Estate planning tools vary, and different people will use different documents and strategies to accomplish their goal. Perhaps you’ve heard about the concept of trusts and the purpose they can serve in your overall estate plan.

Recognizing various types of trusts will help you to have a conversation with your estate planning attorney in Virginia Beach. Trusts are managed or administered by someone known as a trustee. This individual has a fiduciary responsibility to abide by the terms of the trust itself. Beneficiaries are those individuals who are entitled to receive assets from the trust, and the grantor refers to the person who has established the trust. The two most important types of estate planning trusts for use in Virginia involve a distinction between irrevocable and revocable.

Revocability is a characteristic of a trust which references whether or not it can be changed. An irrevocable trust cannot be changed or cancelled after creation.

A revocable trust, however, allows for more flexibility and changes over the course of the grantor’s lifetime. Other types of trusts that may be established include:

  • A charitable trust to benefit specific charities.
  • A special needs trust to provide support for someone with mental or physical disabilities.
  • An asset protection trust to help protect the beneficiaries’ assets against future creditors or claims.
  • A testamentary trust which is set up by a last will and testament after someone’s death.

To further discuss the benefits associated with estate planning and using trusts in Virginia, set aside a time to speak with a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer today. We’ll discuss your needs and goals to help you determine what belongs in your estate plan and how to maximize your planning for the future.

What to Do if You’re Not Ready to Make Long-Term Decisions for Your Estate Plan

estate plan

Many different myths lead some people to ignore their estate plan. These myths, such as not being worth enough money, or assuming that estate plans only apply much later in life, could make things very difficult for your loved ones if something happens to you.

One of the reasons for putting off estate planning is because you may feel unsure about what you want to happen in your plan and who you want to pass on to what. Don’t get bogged down in trying to create the perfect estate plan. Ideally, you’ll partner with a qualified estate planning attorney who can help you make adjustments to your estate plan as necessary.

You don’t need to start with a comprehensive or fully finished product. You can add things in later, such as revocable or irrevocable trust, and you can update things such as power of attorney documents.

It is far better to have a plan in place now for what you wish to happen rather than to wait to a future point when your loved ones may be unable to spring into action quickly.

Imagine, for example, that you have failed to appoint a financial power of attorney because you feel overwhelmed by the process, are not sure which tasks or responsibilities you should pass to them or feel uncertainty about who to appoint.

If you become unable to make these decisions on your own, you could face financial consequences unnecessarily and put your loved ones in a very stressful position. Thankfully, you can hire a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer to create your plan now and adapt it over time into the future.

Why Would I Use Permanent Life Insurance as Part of My Estate Plan?

Most people understand the general concept behind life insurance. When you pass away, your chosen beneficiaries receive a payout from the life insurance company. This can be purchased on a term basis such as 10, 15, 20 or 30 years, or as permanent life insurance which typically covers you until age 120.


Term life insurance is typically cheaper and easier to qualify for, but permanent life insurance also offers a range of planning options that can improve your estate planning while also providing tax saving opportunities and enhanced liquidity. Permanent life insurance allows you to accumulate cash value in the policy over time. This cash value then increases on a tax-deferred basis.


So as long as your policy remains active, the gains within the permanent life insurance policy are not taxed. However, if the policy is surrendered for cash value or the policyholder chooses to withdraw cash from the policy, there may be tax implications. When it comes to estate planning, permanent life insurance can also be advantageous.


The death benefit received by beneficiaries when you pass away can be a lump sum of funds to cover final expenses and estate taxes. This is typically tax-free, and you can help preserve the value of your estate for future generations while also protecting the well-being of your loved ones. You’ll want to work with an attorney who is familiar with how life insurance fits into the bigger picture to ensure that you have selected the proper policy and structured it appropriately with regard to beneficiaries.


Do I Also Need a Financial Advisor for Estate Planning Purposes?

estate planning

Estate planning often leads many people to seek experienced assistance in the form of an estate planning lawyer. However, there may be other professionals you should include in all your discussions about planning your estate and future retirement, such as a financial advisor. You may also collaborate with your insurance agent and CPA throughout the process to address specific questions.

Any significant life changes should prompt you to reach out to experts who can help you navigate this role appropriately. While it can be uncomfortable to broach the topic of estate planning and your own mortality, doing so can help ensure that your wealth is allocated as you desire and can assist your loved ones in avoiding legal problems in the future.

Advisors can complement many of the discussions you have with your estate planning attorney, making it valuable to have conversations with financial advisors before meeting with your lawyer.

Your advisor may offer insights into asset distribution and its relationship to tax consequences. If you aim to minimize the tax burden on your beneficiaries, a financial advisor or your CPA can be extremely helpful in navigating this process.

Advisors can also assist you in determining which assets should primarily be earmarked for your retirement benefits compared to those that may be included in your estate plan either now or in the future, should you no longer require them in retirement and pass away first. These conversations are crucial regardless of your age or current health status. Consider identifying a skilled attorney in Virginia Beach for your next steps.

Are You Delaying Estate Planning by Underestimating the Future?

family estate planning

It can be challenging to contemplate the uncertainties that lie ahead, but tackling estate planning now can make it simpler to take proactive measures or provide assistance to your loved ones down the line. Unfortunately, numerous individuals dismiss the notion of estate planning, believing it to be a distant concern that doesn’t apply to them. This misconception can lead to shock and distress when a loved one passes away prematurely or unexpectedly. In such cases, the mourning process is compounded by the burden of resolving probate matters without any prior estate planning in place.

In the realm of financial planning, a concept known as hyperbolic discounting holds sway. Many individuals struggle with setting aside funds for the future, as the more distant an event seems—be it retirement or the potential need for long-term healthcare expenses—the less connected they feel to the idea as a whole. This disconnect subsequently diminishes the perceived significance and urgency of taking proactive steps to secure one’s well-being.

To counter this tendency, consider shortening your time horizons to achieve greater progress in your financial and estate planning. If retirement and estate planning appear distant, ponder what milestones you could reach within the next 12 months or even five years, ensuring you’ve implemented fundamental measures to safeguard your interests. Establishing a basic estate plan, such as drafting a will and obtaining a term life insurance policy, can offer a safety net for your family in the event of an untimely passing.

Although you may fervently hope that such circumstances won’t arise for many years, the prudent approach is to have some safeguards in place to mitigate the potential risks posed by unforeseen events. Given the prevalence of unexpected health challenges that individuals encounter during their lives, seeking the guidance of a trusts and estates lawyer in Virginia Beach becomes invaluable for navigating this critical planning process.

How To Organize and Categorize Your Assets for Estate Planning Purposes

estate plan

You can’t create a comprehensive estate planning without knowing what you own, what you owe and how you intend to address those various issues in documents and planning.


Start by making a list of your assets which can include many different things, from stocks and bonds to real estate, to land you purchased, to vehicles, jewelry and even collections. If necessary, get a valuation to determine a reasonable market value for each special item or keep an estimate with the list.


Add up this number and then determine how this affects your overall estate. For example, if these assets are valued at more than $12.92 million in 2023, it can be helpful to discuss strategies for protecting your estate from substantial estate taxes by working directly with an attorney.


From this step on you’ll want to break down your assets into three different groups. The first is those you will leave behind for your heirs and other beneficiaries, the second are assets that you intend to pass on through charity, and the final ones are assets that you will need to use in your lifetime. By breaking things down in this way, you get a bigger top-line picture of what’s included in your estate and whether you have enough to support yourself, to cover unexpected issues like a health crisis, and how you’ll help organizations or people you care about after you pass away.


It can be difficult to think about needing to use assets during your lifetime when you intended to pass them on to your loved ones, but many people find a variety of needs such as wanting to retire earlier or dealing with a medical crisis that may call upon them to address the issue by tapping into their savings and other assets. For a holistic estate plan, work directly with a Virginia Beach estate attorney.

Estate Planning: What If My Asset Types Are Not Equal in Value?


If you have a spouse and multiple children, there is a good chance you may want to account for each of them in your estate plan. It is hard to divvy up assets in an estate plan if you don’t first start by creating an inventory of all of your assets and liabilities. Assets inside your estate cannot be distributed to your chosen beneficiaries until all debts, creditors and taxes have been paid.


There are multiple different kinds of asset types that may determine how your assets are passed on to your loved ones.


These can include things such as a personal residence, your investment, real property, cash accounts, and investment accounts. Many people have even more types of asset accounts. It is very unlikely, however, that your different asset types all have an equal value or the same liquidity. For example, you may pass on your primary property to a loved one who lives out of state.


This can make it challenging for them to receive access to this benefit as quickly as possible since they may need to coordinate selling that property, which could take months or even longer. This is very different from someone who may receive access to your cash or investment accounts or life insurance policy payout relatively quickly.

You’ll want to talk with an experienced attorney about how to do distribution of your estate and how to consider these different facets and the needs of your individual beneficiaries.


You may make decisions such as placing certain assets inside a trust to protect a child who may not be financially responsible, for example. Working with a Virginia Beach estate planning professional is critical for protecting your rights and assisting you with your next steps.

Make Your Estate Easier for Your Family: 4 Reasons


It can be difficult to approach the task of estate planning without confronting your own morbidity. Most people hope they’ll live for many more years and be able to provide care for their family members or spouse along that period. However, sitting down with an estate planning attorney is strongly recommended as it can help protect your loved ones and your money in four unique ways.

You can make things much easier for your family overall by ensuring that your wishes are represented in your documented plan. You’ll reduce their stress and protect your desires if something happens to you and you’re unable to speak for yourself.

These include:
• Naming guardians for minor children, so that these children do not become wards of the state and are able to be raised by people you know, like and trust.
• Creating financial security that helps protect your family’s overall finances in the event you pass away or become incapacitated using tools such as life insurance policies, trusts, and wills.
• Minimizing tax burdens by thinking about all of the various tax responsibilities potentially placed on your loved ones, and using strategies such as trusts, gifting and charitable giving to accomplish these goals in advance.
• Making difficult health care decisions end-of-life for you.

Estate planning is about so much more than determining who will receive your assets. It’s also about thinking through your end-of-life decisions and what will happen in medical emergencies. By making these decisions in advance and clearly documenting them as part of your estate plan, you remove the burden for your loved ones having to go to court to argue over this and make it easier for you to get the care you do need in a time of crisis.

Need help figuring out what’s first? Contact our Virginia Beach estate planners for assistance.

How Often Should I Audit My Estate Plan?

Auditing your estate plan sets you up to review your existing strategies, tools, and documents, ideally with the help of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to discuss what’s still relevant and what may require updates. Many different circumstances might prompt you to work with a talented estate planning attorney in VA to set things up for the first time.

Perhaps you recently lost a loved one and saw what a mess it was to wrap things up in probate and then to pass on assets if that person didn’t have a will. Or maybe a recent health scare made you wonder if you have communicated your healthcare wishes to your loved ones.

Getting your estate plan drafted is not a task that should be completed once and then ignored. Filing the documents away for safekeeping doesn’t mean you can forget about them. Circumstances in your life or in broader culture, such as changes in state or federal laws, may call on you to make edits to your estate plan. A good guideline is to look at your estate plan at least every two to three years if there are no major changes in your life that call you to do it sooner.

A lot can happen during that timeframe, including the addition of a new child, the passing away of someone appointed as your trustee or estate plan executor, a marriage or a divorce. There may also be circumstances that apply from outside issues, such as changes in the federal tax exemption rate, or you’ve moved to a new state and need to ensure that your estate plan is drafted for your new location. All of these circumstances should prompt you to contact an estate planning attorney sooner than every year.



When Will a Court Appoint Financial Conservatorship in VA?

Financial guardianship refers to the appointment of a chosen individual to take financial actions on someone else’s behalf. Financial guardianship may be necessary when the individual in question is no longer able to handle their finances on their own and no documents like a power of attorney are in place to direct who should be appointed in these critical roles.

If you’re worried about a loved one in Virginia who may no longer be able to make key decisions for themselves or manage their finances overall, you might share these concerns with an estate planning attorney first to better understand the process in VA.

Courts are most likely to appoint a financial guardian when it is shown that a person cannot handle their finances on their own. This includes things, such as:

  • Individuals with disabilities or diseases that prevent them from understanding their money, such as dementia which can decrease someone’s executive functioning faculties.
  • People who are exposed to a high level of vulnerability for financial exploitation. A loved one can even choose to petition the court to become a loved one’s guardian after an incident of elder fraud has already happened.
  • Individuals who frequently forget to pay bills and suffer the financial consequences may need assistance with tracking these important dates and handling their money.
  • When a person has significant financial assets but is unable to handle them effectively, the court is more likely to order a financial guardian.

You may be able to proactively name someone to serve in the role of financial power of attorney agent by working with an experienced estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach. Contact an estate planning attorney today to get started.