Estate Planning and Administration
Imagine the emotions of losing a family member. Then imagine discovering that they did not have an estate plan in place, leaving the family with the painful responsibility of sorting out things like property, debts, or the future care of children. Think of everything that has to be done when a person passes away.
As unpleasant as it is to think about, all lives come to an end. There are many problems that can create a burden on those who are left behind. How can you plan ahead to make things easier?
If you are faced now with administering someone’s estate or a trust, we can help! The decisions you make at the beginning can make a big difference.
Our experienced trusts and estates lawyer at the Glen Allen Law Offices of Robin S. Gnatowsky can help you see the issues and know what you need to do to manage an estate or trust, and/or can help you create an estate plan now that is designed to achieve your unique goals. Contact our Virginia wills and trusts attorney online or call 804-935-8510 to learn more about how an estate plan can benefit you and your family. We help individuals, families and family trusts, charitable organizations, and small and family owned businesses in Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Florida
What Things Make Up an Estate?
Your estate includes all of the property that you own at the time of your death, including retirement accounts, your personal residence and other real estate, life insurance, and all kinds of other property. Estates that exceed certain amounts may be subject to both state and federal death taxes. Through proper tax planning during your lifetime, and following your death, we may be able to reduce or eliminate some or all tax costs to your beneficiaries.
Benefits of Wills and Trusts
If you died tomorrow, who would receive your home, your personal property or your business? Think of everything that has to be done when a person passes away. Would you like the state where you live (or where you happen to own property) to determine who gets your possessions and when? This is what happens without proper estate planning ahead of time in a will or trust, including working with a lawyer to follow through to properly title assets.
A will or trust can incorporate terms to help reduce and, in some cases, eliminate many state and federal income and death taxes, and can help to achieve your wishes for how and when your assets should be distributed or used. Proper planning can reduce costly and time-consuming probate and other court proceedings and can address other problems.
Providing for the Care of Children, Pets and Incapacitated Adults
If you died tomorrow, who would be best suited to raise your children? Consider the potential caregiver’s age, health and the stability of his or her current situation. Parents can nominate guardians for their minor children in a will. Without a will, you risk having a court appoint a guardian who would not be your first choice. It might even cause a battle among your surviving relatives over the custody of your children. Through proper trust planning you can also reduce or eliminate costly court proceedings over property and guardianship requirements. A legal guardianship can be very expensive and complex and on-going for many years, but must by definition end when the child reaches age 18! What age would you rather choose for a child or special needs beneficiary to receive a large sum of money with no further protections from creditors or their own poor decisions?
Without advanced planning similar problems occur when a guardian must be appointed for an incapacitated adult, and this trouble and expense may have to continue for their remaining lifetime.
To avoid these problems you might consider establishing a trust for your children or grandchildren so that assets will not be distributed to them at too young of an age. The trustee (the person who manages the money per the trust document) you select can care for the assets and use the funds for the benefit of a child or children until some specified time you decide when the child may be more mature. Establishing a proper trust allows you to give the trustee directions over how the money is to be spent for your children’s care and also can protect the funds from most of a beneficiary’s general creditors. A trust may also become very important if you yourself or another adult, such as an aging parent or a spouse, becomes incapacitated. Powers of attorney and proper trust planning are essential for most good estate planning.
Some people establish trusts for their children, spouses, or their favorite charities, but you can also establish a trust for your own future financial needs when and if you are unable to care for yourself. You can even establish a trust to care for pets.
Contact Virginia Wills and Trusts Lawyer
Take action today to relieve family members of the burden of sorting through your estate tomorrow. Procrastination may cost you the opportunity to save taxes and to determine when and who will receive your property upon your death, or even the ability to properly plan for your own incapacity and medical care. Contact our Glen Allen estate planning attorney online or call 804-935-8510 to schedule a consultation. We help individuals, families and family trusts, charitable organizations, and small and family owned businesses in Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Florida