My Bank Offered Me A Transfer on Death or Payable On Death Designation: What Does This Mean?


If something happens to you, you may want a loved one or a friend to get immediate access to your bank accounts. This helps prevent that asset from being tied up in the probate process and allows that loved one the chance to use those funds much sooner. Especially if you want to help a spouse in the aftermath of your passing, this may lead you to think about the best ways to pass on these assets.

There are many different ways you can plan for the future of assets inside your estate, and payable on death and transfer on death designations are two options. These help avoid the requirement for an account to pass through probate on death and serve as an alternative to retitling assets into a revocable trust during the course of your life. Transfer on death designations are typically used with financial accounts and designate at least one beneficiary to be able to immediately receive the assets of the account upon death of the account holder.

This removes the requirement to go through the probate process in your state. The designated beneficiary instead presents documentation required by the institution as well as the death certificate and the proceeds are then distributed to that person. Careful consideration should be given to whether or not a payable on death or transfer on death designation is the right fit for your estate plan. While it is relatively easy, and remove some of the frustrations and concerns around probate, it is not the right fit for everyone.

Assets inside and account may still be subject to estate taxation and are typically not available to the estate for administration expenses or the payment of taxes. You’ll want to discuss any possible financial or other consequences with the Virginia Beach lawyer who assists you with the creation of your estate plan.

Will My Retirement Account Go Through Probate?


Every asset you own should be planned for accordingly in your estate plan. If you’re not familiar with this process or want the insight of someone familiar with your options, finding an area estate planning lawyer is crucial.

If you don’t properly designate your beneficiaries for your retirement accounts, these may end up going through probate. Probate is the legal court process that validates someone’s will and provides for the distribution of assets. Probate is not always necessary for every estate plan but may kick in when someone has a substantial value in their estate. This can be an expensive, drawn out and even frustrating process for your heirs.

You can protect your retirement accounts by designating beneficiaries properly. Retirement accounts include beneficiary designation forms that allow you to name a primary beneficiary as well as a contingent beneficiary. You may need to update these beneficiaries over time, such as if you get married, get divorced, or have additional beneficiaries you’d like to include.

Naming a contingent beneficiary is extremely important because if something happens to your primary beneficiary, you want to ensure that there is a smooth and seamless transfer of these assets to your designated beneficiary party. It is common to forget about updating beneficiary information, but it should be done once a year and after any major changes in your life. The financial institutions where your retirement accounts are held have to hand over assets to named beneficiaries upon the death of the owner.

The contract between the retirement account company and the owner of the account concludes upon death, so long as the person has filed their information correctly with beneficiary designations. This allows for your beneficiary to receive these assets relatively quickly.

Four Things to Consider Including in a Virginia Living Will


Do you have specific intentions about the medical care you do or don’t want at some point in your life? What if you’re not in the condition to be able to articulate these concerns for yourself?


A Virginia living will is a medical directive that allows you to explain your wishes about what kinds of medical treatment you do or do not want. There are four major issues addressed in most living wills:


  • Whether you want artificial nutrition or hydration provided to you
  • Whether you want life-prolonging procedures used for you
  • Whether you wish to make any anatomical gifts with your body
  • What kind of pain management you’d like to receive if you have a terminal illness


Your answers to those questions can be personalized to your religious, moral, or other kinds of beliefs. Your loved ones may not remember, may not be in the area, or may disagree about these issues if you don’t document them in your Virginia living will. The work you do in advance can greatly reduce conflict during this time and ensure that you’re only receiving the care you wanted based on your medical condition. Since this document has such important implications for your medical care, you should create it under the guidance of a local estate lawyer.


Laying out your ground rules and expectations regarding your medical care if you become unable to speak for yourself is extremely important. Not only does this ensure that your wishes are followed, but it relieves stress on your loved ones during a very challenging time. Working with an experience Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer is strongly recommended to make sure that you have considered all possible aspects of creating a living will and that you’re finished document reflects your needs and wishes.

What Assets Need to Be Included in My Estate Inventory?

Each person’s estate inventory will look unique, but a careful consideration of the different types of assets that should be included can make it easier for your estate executor and your loved ones when you pass away.

One of the primary reasons that people sit down to establish an estate plan is to ensure that their assets are simply transferred to the new owners that you have chosen and with minimal tax consequences. In order to establish a plan of distribution, you have to know the assets inside the estate.

This makes sure that your family members know exactly what you own so nothing falls through the cracks and so there is no additional conflict or challenges that emerge if you suddenly pass away.

Some of the most important assets to include in your estate plan include:

  • Life insurance policies, even though these will pass outside of your will and are managed through beneficiary designations.
  • Personal property like art, jewelry, furniture and books.
  • Investment accounts.
  • Vehicles
  • Real estate.
  • Ownership interests in any business.
  • Intellectual property.
  • Investment accounts.

When you list out these assets, it is valuable to know how these assets are owned and whether or not you have already designated any beneficiaries on these accounts.

As mentioned above, beneficiary designations may be handled separately from what is outlined in your will, although you should still have an idea of the beneficiaries listed on this account because these will supersede anything listed in your will.

These will matter significantly if they need to be transferred upon your incapacitation or death. Talk to a Virginia estate planning lawyer if you need more advice or help with your planning.

Study Shows There May Be a Gap in Terms of Retirement Savings and Gender

A new Merrill Lynch study indicates that women may have to work harder than men to save for retirement. This may not come as a surprise to many of the women who are now approaching increasing longevity numbers and who must find a way to make things work in their future, possibly without the support of a spouse.
Retirement issues are extremely important for anyone who is looking ahead to the future regardless of their age, but these issues obviously have a much more pronounced effect on those people who are nearing retirement.
Women must save for retirement earlier and work longer in order to maximize their pension and social security benefits, according to a new study completed by Merrill Lynch. They found that there are unique financial challenges that women continue to face, despite the fact that a great deal of progress has already been made. Although women now graduate in greater numbers than men from college, they also hold more than two thirds of all student debt.
The gender pay gap in the workforce makes it difficult for these women to be able to pay back their debt over time, presenting unique and different challenges to women as they approach retirement. With different financial considerations, it is important for women to be on top of their retirement planning now. Likewise, all singles and couples should consult with an estate planning attorney about how to protect their assets.

What Happens to Your Social Media Accounts When You Pass Away?

The sudden loss of a loved one can present many unique legal challenges to your family members and those responsible for managing your estate but a common question that has become increasingly important in recent years is what happens to your social media. Social media sites such as Facebook have their own rules about how they you can pass things on to a beneficiary when you pass away.  
You need to carefully read their terms of service and ensure that you have followed these and clearly set up the structures inside their website to maximize your chance of effectiveness. Furthermore, it is a good idea to store these passwords in a safer location so that your family members can take action quickly in the event that you were to pass away suddenly.
Having this information stored in a couple of safe places such as directly with your estate planning attorney, can make it easier for your loved ones if something happens to you so that they can carry out your intended wishes for your social media accounts sooner rather than later.
This is important because you may wish them to take action such as saving all of the photos on your account or memorializing the account, if available. Knowing the options you have in front of you, is very important, but planning ahead can make things much easier for your family members when they are already going through a difficult time. Scheduling a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney in Virginia is often the first step.

The Connection Between Your Estate Plan and Your Real Estate in Virginia

Elegant new villa with backyardMost people don’t like to think about the prospect of estate planning, but it is also a necessity that needs to be dealt with. What will happen to your home when you pass away?The final wishes for a loved can become extremely messy and even controversial with your loved ones if you have not made these necessary decisions well in advance.
Many people may question whether or not you need a will to pass down real estate. You do not necessarily need a will to pass on real estate, but it is still a good planning tool. The intestate statute within your state will automatically pass your assets and your land to your closest relatives along with the laws within your individual state. However, if you wish for the land to stay together and go to a specific person than you need to put together a will.
Aside from specific plans you have about where you want certain property you go, you might also feel strongly about certain beneficiaries not receiving real estate assets.
Without a will, you will be unable to allocate where you want the property to go in lieu of individuals that you do not want to receive it. If you do not plan to have any children and do not currently have any children, you can select siblings, nieces, nephews or a charity as a beneficiary, but make sure that you identify primary and continued beneficiaries.
Want to talk about your property in Virginia and how to plan for it properly? Contact a Virginia Beach law firm today.

Why You May Want to Choose Trusts Over Wills

Last Will Concept
Last Will Concept
After you have consulted with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine whether or not the estate tax will influence your assets after you pass away, it is then important to move on to the process of planning for your beneficiaries after you pass away. There are several different avenues for you can do this. Most people are familiar with wills. Bear in mind that a will is basically a document that gives clear intentions to the probate court, making them aware of how to handle your assets after you pass away.
The disadvantage to putting together a will, however, is that it may have to go into probate court and could ultimately be contested. A revocable living trust is an ideal option for those individuals who may not be fall under the umbrella triggering estate tax issues. Revocable refers to the fact that it is eligible to be changed.
The three different parties making up a trust include the grantor, the trustee and the beneficiary. You will serve as the trustee and the grantor because you are alive when you put together a revocable trust. Trusts give you ultimate power and control over your assets even after you pass away. This can give you a great deal of peace of mind and will help to remove these assets from going through the probate process, which can be extremely beneficial for you as well as your loved ones.
Ready to talk to your Virginia estate planning lawyer about putting together a trust? Reach out today.

Business owners often overlook business in estate planning

When it comes to estate planning, many business owners make plans that overlook their most obvious asset: the business.
“The mathumb_estate_planningjority of business owners do not have a business succession plan in place,” according to an article on the website of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils by Susan P. Rounds, director of wealth management for Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas ( “The list of reasons can be quite long, but boil down to the Three T’s: Time (not enough of it); Training (there has been no discussion of the alternatives for management and ownership succession); and, Team (the business owner does not have the right team of advisors on which to rely on for this kind of advice.)
The third factor is on us. Those of us in the estate planning community can use this development as an opportunity to perk interest and start the conversation. Don’t let your business owner client, or any client, go with the ‘No Plan Plan.’ ”
“Do you know how you are going to exit your business?” asks the website of the Small Business Administration ( “You may have a dream of going public, selling to the highest bidder, or retiring and handing over your business legacy to your family. Big dreams aside, the truth is that many small business owners have no exit strategy for their businesses in the event of their disability, retirement, or death. Given the current economy, it isn’t surprising small business owners focus their energies on business survival, future growth and even remaining active in business after retirement. However, a business exit strategy not only means having a plan for the unexpected, including financial hardship, injury, disability and even death, it also means having a plan for the succession or transfer of ownership of your business when it comes time to hang up your hat and retire.”
“Continuing a business beyond one generation of leaders requires planning,” offers the Service Corps of Retired Executives ( “Whether through private shares transferred to a senior manager, or a leadership transfer to family members, a succession plan smoothes the way for continued business success. Don’t shy away from succession planning because it looks too far in to the future. Devising a formal plan that outlines who will own and operate the company, once you are not in the day-to-day role, is a critical path decision that has a direct impact on long-term business profitability.
SCORE offers a five-point plan:
1. Choose Your Successor
2. Develop a Formal Training Plan for Your Successor
3. Establish a Timetable
4. Prepare Yourself for Retirement
5. Install Your Successor

Caregivers of growing elderly population increasingly diverse

As America ages, it is also growing more and more diverse.
The confluence of these factors is that the entire realm of caregiving, family members or friends taking care of an older loved one, are increasingly diverse. Society, and those involved with helping older people make their way through the rest of their lives, has to take into account the ways of which different cultures are going to approach caregiving differently.
“Rates of caregiving vary somewhat by ethnicity,” according to an article on the website of the American Psychological Association ( “For example, among the U.S. adult population, approximately one-fifth of both the non-Hispanic white and African-American populations are providing care to a Asian caregiver loved one, while a slightly lower percentage of Asian-Americans, 18 percent, and Hispanic Americans, 16 percent, are engaged in caregiving.”
The article goes on to cite a national study that focused only on people 70 and older that found that 44 percent of the Latinos received home-based family caregiving. That compared with 34 percent for African Americans and 25 percent for whites.
“In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that 19 percent of the U.S. population aged 65 and older was minority,” according to an article on the website for Today’s Geriatric Medicine ( “By 2050, 39 percent of the nation’s older adults will be represented by minority groups.
“The population increase of ethnic older adults is prompting research on ways to improve care for this population. Many practitioners, such as social workers, nurses, physicians, and community workers, acknowledge that they need to consider diversity when working with elder care recipients and their caregivers. Research shows common characteristics of caregiving among various racial and ethnic groups in America, as well as differences based on attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors passed from one generation to another. It’s essential for healthcare practitioners to be cognizant of cultural differences among clients and their families and tailor expectations and behaviors with respect to ethnic beliefs and values.”
“Several studies have found that African-American caregivers experience less stress and depression and garner greater rewards from caregiving than white caregivers,” according to the American Psychological Association. “Hispanic and Asian American caregivers, however, exhibit more depression than white caregivers. Asian-American caregivers made less use of professional support services than did White caregivers. Ethnic minority caregivers had a lower socioeconomic status, were more likely to receive support from family members and friends, provided more care than White caregivers, and had stronger filial obligation beliefs than White caregivers.
“All ethnic minority caregiving groups reported worse physical health than the white caregivers experienced.”