When Should I Update My Living Will?

Like all estate planning documents, there are certain circumstances that call for you to update your living will. Making sure that your estate planning materials are regularly updated will ensure that if something happens to you that your plan will be followed. Update your living will in the following circumstances:

  • There has been a recent change in health care laws.
  • There have been new changes in medical technology that you do or do not want considered as part of your future care.
  • There are new changes or limits on medical care to meet your ability to pay.
  • You are responding to the death of a significant other or loved one.
  • You have recently moved to a new state.
  • There have been changes in your health, such as a terminal diagnosis, pregnancy, hospitalization or need for surgery.
  • You need to designate a different person to make health care decisions for you.
  • You have changes in your beliefs and desires regarding end of life care.

In all of these circumstances, working with the right estate planning attorney is strongly recommended to ensure that you have considered all of the most important issues and set yourself up for the future. Do not hesitate to communicate with an experienced and qualified lawyer as soon as you can to protect your interests in full with a living will.

Our Virginia Beach, VA estate planning lawyer is familiar with all aspects of planning ahead for your future with power of attorney documents. When you hire a lawyer, you can work on a personalized strategy designed to help you accomplish your primary goals.



James Brown’s Estate Settles For Sale Of $90 Million

Owning a lot of assets presents unique estate planning challenges, a lesson that has left many potential heirs of celebrity estates with more questions than answers in recent years.

James Brown, like many other celebrities who have become the subject of recent study, did not complete his estate planning prior to passing away. It was estimated that his estate was worth more than $100 million, but a vague will created many different problems. After a very expensive 15 year legal battle, the surviving heirs sold the value of the estate for $90 million to a company called Primary Wave Music. Multiple people, including five of James Brown’s children, have been fighting in probate court to get control of the estate over the 15 year period. Before any money can be paid out of the estate, all lawsuits must be settled and decided between former and current executors of the estate.

From Whitney Houston to Prince and Michael Jackson and Luther Van Ross, many celebrities with substantial net worth have failed to incorporate even the most basic of estate planning strategies that would have made things easier for their heirs.

Even if you have a smaller estate, you can help prevent delays in the transition of your assets to your heirs and reduce the possibility of estate planning conflict. The best way to do this is to work directly with an estate planning lawyer for the drafting of your own documents.

If you want to avoid problematic situations, schedule a consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney in VA to discuss your next steps.


Americans Are Retiring Later In Life. What Does This Mean For You?

Research shows that Americans are now retiring as many as four years later in their life than they did when compared to 30 years ago. Gallup, the Center for Retirement Research and the American Enterprise Institute have all conducted research studies to find the average retirement age.

Deciding the right age to retire is a personal decision and might be based on a variety of factors. For married couples where both parties work, they might be trying to time their retirement dates together. For a single person, they might want to work as long as possible to maximize withdrawals from retirement accounts. This new trend in retiring later is quite different from retirement age traditions in the past.

For much of history, beginning after the Civil War, the trend had actually been going in the other direction with people retiring younger. However, that number started climbing back up in the 1990s.

Some of the most common reasons for the retirement age to get later include:

  • Changes in the Social Security program, when the program’s full retirement age went from 65 to 67, in the 1980s.
  • Generational shifts in the 401(k) program.
  • Health insurance consideration benefits.
  • Living longer and healthier lives.

As you think about protecting your own retirement in these later years, it’s very important to work with a qualified and knowledgeable estate planning attorney. An estate planning lawyer can help you with a variety of different tasks associated with planning your retirement as well as aligning your estate planning objectives with these goals.



What to Think About Before Creating a Trust in Virginia

Whether you are creating a trust for tax or non-tax purposes, it is extremely important to work with a qualified estate planning attorney. An appropriately drafted agreement can fulfill your intentions and ensure that you accomplish the goals you have structured. Your trust should include a variety of different important information including:

  • The names of institutions or individuals who have fiduciary duties, such as the current and successor trustee.
  • The identity of all beneficiaries.
  • The description of any initial capital placed inside the trust and authorization for additional contributions.
  • The conditions through which beneficiaries are entitled to receive income distributions from the trust, such as at a fixed rate, on a fixed schedule or through some other plan.
  • Specifying the term or time limit of the trust.
  • Provides for the payment or waiving of fees associated with the trustee’s role.
  • Provides for the security, bond or waiving of such security or bond for the trustee.

If you’re not sure who to name as a trustee, talk to a lawyer. You can appoint individuals or sometimes organizations to handle this responsibility, but you should always think it through carefully. This person or company will play an important role in administering your trust, so you should have confidence in their abilities.

Working directly with an estate planning attorney is one of the only ways to feel confident about the use of a trust for estate planning purposes. Set aside time to meet with a dedicated and experienced estate planning lawyer about your next steps. Our Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer can help you.


What Are The Basics Required To Set Up A Trust Fund?

Perhaps you’re thinking about adding a layer of privacy and control to your estate plan and want to establish a trust fund in order to do so. If you want to leave a legacy behind for your beneficiaries, moving assets into a trust is one way to do it. Trust funds are legally binding accounts that put your assets and money into a trust.

Although a trust is like a will because it outlines what you want to happen to your assets after you pass away, assets in your will must go through the process of probate and could take longer to distribute to your loved ones. Trusts have historically been used by those families with greater wealth to pass along assets to a set of heirs, but you do not need to meet a specific wealth threshold.

The trust is created by someone who opens it to manage financials, assets and belongings. This person is known as a trustor or a grantor. The beneficiaries of the trust are known as the grantees who received their distributions after the grantor passes away, or at another schedule outlined in the trust. Finally, the trustee refers to the institution or the person who owns the trust. This determines how your belongings will be dispersed according to a schedule you set or after you pass away.

You can meet directly with an estate planning attorney to find a trust that best suits your needs. You can then determine each of the assets that will go into the trust and properly retitle them so that they formally become owned by the trust rather than you. Because of the possible complexity as well as the many benefits offered by a trust, it is strongly recommended that you work directly with an estate planning attorney in Virginia Beach who can help you to craft the trust that reaches your goals.



Five Times You Need To Update Your Living Will

It is important as with all other estate planning documents to conduct a regular review of your materials to ensure these strategies still align with your goals. Routine reviews of your comprehensive estate plan help you to identify problems before they become issues. You want to ensure that your entire estate plan is aligned with your current needs and goals.

There are other circumstances that might prompt you to review your living will immediately, such as:

  • Prior to a scheduled surgery.
  • When you experience significant changes in your health, such as diagnosis of a disease like Alzheimer’s.
  • When you become a parent.
  • If you have dramatic changes in your opinions about the issues addressed in your living will.
  • As you reach retirement age.

When you find yourself in these circumstances, it is important to communicate directly with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning lawyer.

An estate planning lawyer can help you review your individual documents, such as a living will and discuss how these may be adjusted to accomplish your changed goals or new focus. An attorney is instrumental in helping guide you through this process and in answering your questions.

If you don’t yet have a living will in Virginia, now is a good time to speak with a Virginia Beach lawyer. We work with clients to help them understand how to update all your estate plan materials.



The Risks of Skipping A Living Will

A will is one of the most important components of your estate plan. You can accomplish many estate planning goals by creating a will, but you may also need to supplement it with other documents. One such example is a living will.

You should always discuss your will, a living will, revocable living trusts and other estate planning tools directly with an estate planning lawyer to determine what is most appropriate for addressing your needs. Your will is set up to be executed after you pass away. It names things, such as a guardian for any minor children, and what you would like to happen to the assets that you own. However, this still leaves many questions to be answered about handling issues that come up while you’re still alive.

A living will is a document that can help to address this by giving your caregivers directions about your wishes in the event of an incapacitating event, and any end of life decisions that might require action without your input.

Your living will should be drafted with your specific wishes in mind, but like all other estate planning documents, should also follow state laws. This ensures that your document is treated as legally valid at the time of need.

If you have questions about the kinds of decisions that might need to be included in your living will, it’s a good idea to work directly with your physician or medical professional, and then take the information that you learn from that meeting to your estate planning lawyer. An estate planning lawyer in VA can help you understand any specific state level rules for executing this document effectively.


The Importance of Explaining Your Estate Plan to Your Children

Even if all your children get along now, there’s nothing like an unknown estate plan to cause anxiety and arguments within the family. Discussing your intentions in advance with your family members is one way to reduce future conflict.

If your children are included as part of your estate plan, or you have specific wishes in your estate plan that your children may not expect, it can be very valuable to discuss these plans with your children. There are some situations in which a child may be unwilling to discuss a parent’s estate planning.

For example, your adult children may believe that you are devoting too much time to thinking about death rather than enjoying life. However, you are not unhealthily preoccupied with the concept of death, but are instead focusing on your ability to live confidently by taking the necessary steps to protect your interests and ensure that your loved ones receive assets as intended. For far too many people who have not put their estate plan in order, there is an emotional uncertainty and questioning that bothers them.

Knowing that they have this unfinished business adds additional stress to you. Discussing your estate plans with your experienced estate planning lawyer can also give you further clarity over gaps that you may have in your current documentation. This can help you start the conversation with your adult children about what you have planned for your estate and how best to protect your interests. Schedule a time to meet with an estate planning attorney in Virginia Beach today to learn more.


The IRS Has Updated Their Mortality Tables. What Does This Mean For Your Estate Planning?

In the last several decades, longevity has largely been increasing, particularly for women who may outlive their partners and need more funds set aside in retirement. The current mortality tables used by the IRS used life expectancy data from 2000, and new table updates will be based on data from 2010.

The life expectancy calculation will assume longer life expectancies at every age. For example, someone who had a life expectancy of 70 years will see an increase of just over 1.5 years. It is important to think about how this may impact your estate planning and life expectancy considerations for retirement. Having these details set aside can be instrumental in helping you with the best way to proceed with your estate planning.

Living longer or outliving a partner when you have jointly combined your retirement and other financial resources could mean problems for the spouse who outlives the other.

Likewise, funds that you may have set aside to transfer to future generations for estate planning purposes may need to be recalculated as part of your emergency or retirement funds. Especially if you do live much longer, you may also face costs from unexpected health care issues, requiring additional savings.

Planning ahead for a long life and the possibility of healthcare issues later on in that life is important for protecting your assets and saving appropriately. You might need help with elder law issues such as how to qualify quickly for Medicaid, and having the right lawyer to guide you through this can make a big difference.

Make sure that you consult with your knowledgeable estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach about these complex issues.



Study Finds 20% Of Americans Passed Away From COVID Without An Estate Plan

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of incapacity and estate planning front and center. But a new study indicates that some people who passed away from COVID-19 did not have an estate plan.

The Caring.com research study found that 1 out of 5 Americans who passed away due to complications with COVID-19 had completed no estate planning at the time of their passing. Of those who had some sort of estate planning document, 23% had prepared a will and 18% had created a living trust. The COVID-19 pandemic did spark estate planning action for certain segments of the population since young adults are more likely to engage in estate planning as a result of the pandemic.

Seniors and middle-aged adults, however, were less likely to have been influenced by this global event since only 22% of respondents between the ages of 35 to 54 said that COVID motivated them to create their own estate plan. If you need to create an estate plan, doing so can be easy with the support of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer. Make sure to discuss your personal goals with a lawyer so that your documents and strategies match up with your future intentions.

Reach out to schedule a consultation today to learn more about how estate planning can support your loved ones and make a difficult time easier. Reach out to set up your Virginia Beach estate planning meeting today.