What Medical Treatment Decisions May Be Outlined in a Living Will/Advanced Directive?


A living will, called an advanced directive in Virginia, helps to protect your plans and respects your health care wishes if you become unable to speak about them in the future. An advanced directive or living will is a formal and legal document that outlines your individual preferences regarding end of life care, and other medical treatment concerns. End of life situations can happen at any age due to illness or an unexpected accident, so it’s important to document your wishes now.

Your advanced directive determines the medical treatments that you would not or would accept in order to keep you alive, and they also reference other important health care decisions such as pain management.

To broach this topic for yourself, think about how important you value independence and self-sufficiency, or which treatments or situations make you feel as though your life is no longer worth living. Perhaps you only want to receive treatment if a cure exists, or maybe you want to be kept alive at all costs.

There are multiple end of life scenarios that you may address in a living will, including:

  • Dialysis
  • Tube feeding
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Receipt of antivirals or antibiotics
  • Tissue and organ donation
  • Donating your body to science

Having clarity over these issues will allow you to document that and include it in your estate plan, making it that much easier to ensure that your wishes are respected and that your loved ones are not put into a difficult situation in the future. Contact a Virginia Beach estate planning firm now for assistance with documenting your wishes.

Putting Off Will Writing Could Leave Your Family at Risk

If you’ve put off the process of estate planning, you are not alone. People of all ages tend to ignore the opportunities available with estate planning. Some may change that tune when they experience the lack of estate planning or even proper estate planning through their own family when they’re named as beneficiaries.

A recent study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College shows that even individuals over age 70 don’t use wills as much as they used to. Between 2008 and 2018 the portion of that population that used wills or trusts to distribute their assets dropped from 70% to 63%.

In a recent Caring.com survey, the reasons for people to skip estate planning varied, including procrastination, a believing that a person did not have enough assets to bother creating a will, not being sure how to proceed or whether estate planning would benefit them, and a perception that the process was too expensive.

The truth is that any adult above age 18 can benefit from estate planning, and a customized process can be developed for you with the help of an estate planning lawyer. Virginia’s intestate succession rules may otherwise outline what happens to your assets, which may not be in your best interests. Instead, seek to create your own will and distribution plans.

Receiving guidance through this process can make it much easier for you to navigate estate planning and to feel more confident about your own future. Reach out to a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer to put the wheels in motion for planning your own retirement now.

My Loved One Didn’t Have a will in Virginia: What Happens Next?

With no will to review, each state sets laws for how someone’s property will be distributed when they pass away. You’ll have more control over this process by working with a lawyer to create your own estate plan, but many families find themselves in the position of navigating this process with no will or estate plan at all.

The process of interstate succession outlines what happens in any particular state. When a person passes away without a will, there are many estate administration tasks that must be addressed when a person passes away with no will, and Virginia is no exception to when it comes to laying out what this looks like. You can avoid interstate succession and add more customization to your property transfer by working with a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer.

When personal property that has not been designated through a legal will must be divided or sold for creditors and then divided. These are the laws that apply in Virginia. If you have no spouse but pass away with children, your children are eligible to receive everything. If you have no children but a spouse, your spouse receives everything. If you have both, both children and a spouse, the spouse receives everything.

If the children are yours, if the children belong to you and your spouse. Otherwise, the spouse inherits one third and the children inherit two thirds. If you have no spouse or parents, but pass away with siblings, your siblings inherit everything, you can add much more personalization to your estate plan by discussing your options with a dedicated estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach.

Is My Will A Matter of Public Record?

You may recognize that creating a will is one of the best ways to document who you want to receive which assets when you pass away. A will is not required, but is strongly recommended for each adult over age 18. Your will is your chance to document your wishes surrounding your property and who may provide care for any minor children.

Without a will, chaos may be created for your family members who may believe they have claim to certain items you promise them during life, but maybe legally used to pay creditors and debts or given to other beneficiaries depending on your state’s laws. You may also be worried about the issue of privacy.

Wills contain critical details about possessions, money and property when someone passes away. When your will goes through probate, the court ordered administration process, this is a matter of public record. The probate court must receive and maintain a copy of your wills so that the public can access it. This means that whether or not someone is an heir or beneficiary, they can visit your local probate court to view the will and may get a copy by paying a fee. In some places, wills are even available online. Virginia has a library of wills.

The person known as the executor who is responsible for finding and submitting the will, satisfying debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries may potentially be responsible for submitting additional court reports or documents to manage or close out probate. If you wish to add more privacy to your estate plan, it is a better idea to work directly with a local Virginia Beach estate attorney and to leverage a trust to do so.


Will Virginia Medicaid Will Pay For My Nursing Home?

The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home can be sudden. The person’s condition may have declined to the point that they immediately need nursing home support, or they may have suffered in a recent accident or injury that leaves them no option but to recover inside a nursing home.

In these difficult circumstances, it can be even more challenging to think about the possibility of qualifying for government funded nursing home assistance. This is handled through the Virginia Medicaid program, but it is important to understand the qualification requirements, such as income limits. Nursing homes can be extremely expensive, with the average daily cost of private rooms inside them being nearly $300 in Virginia.

Even though home health care services and assisted living facilities might be slightly more affordable, they are still expensive. Neither Medicare nor most private health insurance companies will cover stays in nursing homes and very few people purchase long term care insurance policies that would help pay for coverage. Medicaid, therefore, is a very common source for paying for long term care, especially when someone has already exhausted their own assets to pay for care.

Across the country, around 70% of nursing home residents use Medicaid to pay for that coverage. Working with an experienced and qualified Virginia Beach Medicaid planning lawyer can assist you with the process of planning ahead for time in a nursing home. Do not hesitate to consult with a qualified lawyer as soon as you can about your future.


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.



What Are the Real Stakes Of Passing Away Without A Will?

The chances that you may pass away without having a will in place are extremely high. Although more people have reported awareness around estate planning as a result of the pandemic, plenty of people still have not taken the right action step to protect their interests in moving forward with estate planning.

You may be putting off estate planning for any number of reasons, but this can have significant consequences for your family. The stakes can be very high because you may relinquish control of your final wishes to other people who you do not trust. Every state has laws that automatically designate your heirs. These are known as intestate succession laws.

While the laws may have different applications based on the locality in question, they pass the authority for decision-making over your assets to the state. This means that any specific wishes you may have will not be followed. This can include bequests that you intended to make to a certain member of your family, or may have made verbal commitments about. Your loved ones may also be more likely to argue with one another and experience additional conflict because you failed to carry out estate planning. Another common issue associated with not having a will is that your loved ones are unable to find or understand all of your assets.

If you worked for yourself, it can be difficult for them to file your final income tax return. If they do not know where to locate deeds and other important documents, it may be difficult for them to know what to do with this material and whether or not it belongs in probate. In all of these circumstances, you’re passing off the responsibility for important estate planning decisions to other people. If you wish to have some level of control over the future of your estate, you need to consult with a dedicated and experienced lawyer in Virginia Beach.



Five Reasons Someone Can Contest Your Will

When you plan for your estate, you hope that assets transfer smoothly to your chosen beneficiaries. But that’s not always the case, as you might have found out personally if involved in the estate of a loved one who passed away.

There are steps you can take to minimize the chances of someone opening a will contest in your own estate. It’s recommended that you work with a trusted attorney in Virginia Beach, VA to reduce those risks. When you’re clear about your own goals and document them well, there are fewer chances that your estate winds up in the midst of a probate dispute.

Basic probate laws outline situations in which someone is eligible to contest your will. Contesting a will can be a serious issue, particularly if you intended for your probate to be processed seamlessly to allow your chosen beneficiaries. The support of an experienced and dedicated estate planning lawyer can go a long way in helping you to accomplish your goals and minimize the possibility of a will challenge. There are five major reasons that someone might challenge your will. These include;

  • Proof of the existence of a later valid will
  • Unclear provisions within the will
  • Inappropriate or insufficient witnesses to the signing of the will
  • Someone exerting undue influence over the testator
  • Incapacity of the deceased individual when they wrote the will

Only a person with legal standing is eligible to pursue a will contest in your situation. It is extremely important to consult with a dedicated lawyer as soon as possible to create your own estate plan and minimize the possibility of problems with future will contests.


Does Your Estate Plan Need More Than A Simple Will?

A simple will is necessary for every US adult over the age of 18. It can help them answer many questions and ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes. However, estate planning can be tailored based on your assets, family circumstances, income, and personal goals.

Executing a will can take time and this can also prove problematic because your beneficiaries may need to wait for the probate process in court to conclude before enjoying your gifts. This is one reason to consider working with an estate planning professional to create a trust.

This bypasses probate and allows you to transfer assets to your loved ones immediately in line with your wishes and as an added bonus, it does not create a public record of any of your estate plans, meaning that your directives remain confidential. A revocable trust should be considered by everyone outside of those who only have a few assets.

There is little downside to creating a revocable living trust, but there can be considerable benefits as they are recognized in every state. Once you know what you want to achieve with your Virginia Beach, VA estate plan, you’ll be in a better position to decide on your next steps.

Even if you don’t have many assets, it’s worth continuing to revisit the estate planning conversation on a regular basis. The birth of a new child, acquiring a new home, or even experiencing a change in income for the better can all shift your situation and highlight the value of planning.

To learn more about how to create a revocable living trust to accomplish your goals, schedule a time to meet with an experienced estate planning lawyer.



Should I Leave Money to a Charity in My Will?

Estate planning and philanthropy are interconnected as many people use this opportunity to leave leftover funds behind to support a charity of their choosing. This is a very personal decision and one that is based on your own assets and your personal goals. Having an estate planning attorney to help you with this process can clarify answers to many of your most common questions. Your will specifies what you want to be done with your assets after you pass away.

You can also use your will to determine the making of a charitable bequest, or you can also work with your estate planning attorney to set up a trust fund for a very specific charity.

Naming a charity as a beneficiary in either your will or your living trust is one of the easiest ways to accomplish your philanthropic goals and, when done properly, it can also reduce the amount of your taxable estate and any relevant estate taxes. Make sure that you understand your intentions in creating estate planning goals with leaving behind assets in your will.

Knowing that you have an attorney who is highly knowledgeable about these issues can give you a lot of peace of mind about the next steps you need to take to pass on your legacy and support charities. Do not hesitate to contact an attorney today to learn more.

A Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer can guide you through the entire process of creating your plan and supporting charities or other important causes through your strategy.