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.



How Can I Decrease the Chances of Someone Challenging the Validity of My Will?

With estate planning, you may be able to include what is known as a no-contest clause to decrease someone’s incentives to challenge the contents of your will. Working directly with an estate planning attorney is one of the best ways to get the peace of mind provided with the estate planning process.

If someone challenges your will in Virginia courts, this slows down the probate process while the courts investigate the claim of the will’s invalidity.

You can take several proactive steps under the guidance of your estate planning lawyer to decrease the chances that someone will be able to effectively challenge the validity of your will in the future. Some of the most popular ways to avoid future will challenges include:

  • Discussing your will and the intentions inside of it to each of your children to avoid any surprises and to give you a chance to explain your reasoning.
  • Excluding your children completely from the will writing process to invalidate any future claims of any undue influence.
  • Have your doctor present to the signing of your will to invalidate claims associated with alleged lack of capacity.
  • Use a trust rather than a will to provide structure and control in asset transfer for those loved ones who may not be able to manage inheritances responsibly on their own.

These steps can help you to create a comprehensive estate plan that incorporates all of your primary goals and minimizes the possibility of future estate disputes. A Virginia Beach, VA lawyer can help you.



Is a Simple Will Enough?

A simple will is the most basic of estate planning documents which determines what happens to your belongings when you pass away. What belongings you own can have important implications for whether or not a simple will helps you to accomplish your estate planning goals. For example, if you own a lot of property and are concerned with the manner in which it is distributed to your beneficiaries, a simple will may not cover enough flexibility and control for you.

A simple will is best for those with relatively few assets who are aiming to keep their loved ones outside of probate court with a simple transfer of assets. A simple will is best for people with easy situations.

If you have a lot of assets, have recently been remarried or divorced, have assets in multiple states, own a business or have stepchildren, a simple will may not go far enough to accomplish your estate planning goals. It is also possible that a simple will drafted months or years ago for you is no longer relevant to the complexity of your current life. In these circumstances, you want to have a lawyer who has managed situations like this before to help you adapt your estate plan for your new lifestyle.

Talk to a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer when you’re not sure if a simple will covers your needs. Estate planning lawyers work to understand your situation and then use that data to make a recommendation about the plan that best fits your needs.


What Happens If an Executor Refuses to Follow the Wishes of The Decedent in The Will?

A will lays out the particular plan for how a person’s assets and liabilities should be addressed when they pass away. An executor gets appointed, also known as a personal representative in some states, to handle this process known as probate or estate administration.

If you are a beneficiary of an estate, or you are an heir to a loved one who recently passed away, you might have concerns about executors who fail to follow the decedent’s wishes. Your options for moving forward all depend on your personal resources and the possible funds at stake.

If you can afford to do so and if the assets inside the estate are worth it, hiring an experienced probate lawyer to evaluate this matter can assist you in filing the proper paperwork in court. You should always balance this with the possible upside and the possible downsides of spending time going through a legal process. Because there are so many different things to consider in this process, it is valuable to have the support of an experienced probate lawyer.

When you create your will with the help of an estate planning attorney, you do so with your underlying goals in mind and clarity on what to anticipate. You can make things easier for your loved ones by discussing some of your estate plans with them so they know or at least have a general sense of your wishes.

Contact a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer today to learn more.



What Does an Executor Do When There Is No Will?

If the will that is associated with an estate is invalid or if an executor cannot find a will, state law determines what happens to the property inside the estate. Many people don’t write wills such that when it’s time to settle their estates, it becomes difficult to determine who inherits the property. Virginia state law will provide these answers in determining who will administer the affairs of the estate, inherit the property and take care of minor children.

Without a will there’s no way to know who the deceased individual might have chosen as the executor, but someone must step in to take over this authoritative role. The court chooses someone to serve as executor if a probate court proceeding is required. If no probate is required, there doesn’t need to be an official personal representative for the estate.

Instead, an individual close to the deceased, such as an adult child might step in to wrap things up relying on informal state procedures. Each state has intestate succession laws which determine which of the closest relatives of the deceased will receive certain types of property. In most cases a spouse would be the first person to inherit under intestate succession laws but make sure you discuss the specifics with your estate planning lawyer.

A Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer is there to support and guide you when you need help with crafting the right plan for you. This includes naming the personal representative to handle estate administration.

Study Shows Americans Look at Trusts, Wills and Life Insurance In 2020

There are always good reasons to update an estate plan, such as big changes in laws impacting estate and gift taxes or changes in your personal life that warrant new beneficiaries. But world events or family events might also prompt you to rethink your strategies.

As the coronavirus pandemic has made the topic of death unavoidable, more people than ever stepped back to look at their existing estate plans or to craft strategies to close those gaps.

According to the MIB Group, the number of life insurance applications for people younger than age 44 increased by over 7% in 2020 despite the fact that applications for life insurance had been down in the previous years. The creation of key estate planning documents, such as a will were also up due to covid-19. One study recently completed by found that over 30% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 created wills directly as a result of the pandemic and its unexpected impacts.

Preparing for death can be difficult and an uncomfortable topic to discuss with your loved ones but it can also be especially important to have these conversations well in advance of a crisis.

If you need support crafting your estate planning documents or discussing whether or not your existing strategies help to accomplish your individual goals, it’s a good idea to have an existing relationship with an estate planning law firm in Virginia Beach that can help serve as an important resource for you during these times.

Black Panther Star Passes Away Without a Will

Plenty of celebrities are in the news for all the wrong reasons when it comes to the time of their passing. Many of them either don’t realize or don’t anticipate the possibility of their estate plan being invoked sooner than they expected. The fate of 43 year old actor Chad Boseman’s estate is left up to the courts. The estimated value of his estate is nearly $939,000 and his wife has requested to be the administrator of the estate.

These are only the probated assets, meaning that there can be additional assets inside qualified retirement accounts and life insurance. Many celebrities leave behind substantial estates which can prove very problematic and confusing for loved ones in the event of a star’s sudden passing.

Prince, too, passed away with a substantial estate but no planning to support it. Estates of all sizes can benefit from the support of an outside estate planning attorney to determine the primary objectives of your estate planning and how to leverage tactics to achieve those goals.

Learning from the mistakes of celebrities, you might assume that since your estate is smaller that it won’t have the far-reaching repercussions of someone with vast wealth. But you could make things unnecessarily hard for your loved ones when you have no estate plan, especially since that situation is easily avoided.

Even if you do not have an estate reaching into the high six figures or seven figure range, you can make things a lot easier for your loved ones by doing the work of estate planning today.

A Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer can sit down with you and any necessary loved ones to walk you through the connection between your estate and your current strategies so that you can get questions answered promptly.



I Recently Moved to Virginia. Is My Will Still Valid?

Among all of the changes that you’ll need to make when you move to a new state, voter registration, driver’s license and updating all of your bank account and credit card addresses, don’t forget your will.

There is a good chance that your current will is still valid in your new state but there might be differences in the new state’s laws that render portions of your existing will invalid. Furthermore, it’s just a good idea to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney in your new area to verify that other aspects of your estate plan are up to date as well.

Moving to a new address, for example, also means that you might need to update this information with your retirement or brokerage account or life insurance policy. This will make it that much easier for your beneficiaries to reach out to these important account managers in the event something happens to you.

Another reason to have your estate plan reviewed is if you move from a common law state to a community property state or vice versa. Since property laws can vary from one state to another, you want to verify that the current aspects of your estate plan are still accurate.

States might also have differing rules about when co-owned property is eligible to pass to the surviving owner and when it can pass under the will. You might also wish to speak with your new estate planning attorney about whether there’s any language you can add to your new will to make probate easier for your loved ones. Schedule a consultation today with a trusted estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach, VA.    


Is There Any Property That Should Be Left Out of a Will?

Not all property will be passed on as a result of what’s listed in your last will and testament. You’ll need to consider including and excluding the right assets by partnering with a trusted estate planning lawyer to help you.

There are several different kinds of property that you should expressly leave out of the last will because it must be designated or managed in another way. These assets don’t go through the formal Virginia probate process. This includes:

  • Transfer on death property such as vehicles, real estate, bonds and stocks, which will pass automatically to a named beneficiary if you have taken that step.
  • Annuity proceeds or life insurance policies, since the individual listed as your beneficiary will automatically receive these payments.
  • Proceeds from retirement plans, 401(k)s, IRAs and pensions, which will pass directly to the beneficiary named on forms.
  • Pay on death bank accounts.
  • Property held inside a living trust.
  • Property held with a right of survivorship.

The general answer for what goes into your will is everything outside of these expressly named assets. If you are curious about what to include in your overall estate planning inventory and what other documents besides a will you might need to support you, set aside time to speak with a trusted estate planning lawyer. Our Virginia Beach law office can help you keep everything organized when it comes to your estate plan and the assets inside.