If you are 18 or older, it is time to start thinking about your estate. You might not think you need estate planning because you don’t have numerous assets, but an estate plan looks beyond your finances. It includes any medical directives or other decisions you’ll want to be made for yourself if you become incapacitated.
If you do not have an estate yet, you are among the majority of Americans. A recent study found only four in 10 Americans have a trust or a will. If you are ready to create a plan for your Norfolk estate, contact our attorneys at Montagna Law law firm at 757-622-8100 to start securing your future.
An estate plan comprises several legal documents that direct what you have chosen to do with your assets and care in the event of your incapacitation or death. While people with substantial assets typically do estate planning, it’s not just for the ultra-wealthy. Anyone who is a legal adult can have one. When developing your estate plan, there is no one-size-fits-all plan, but it generally includes several vital documents.
A will is a legal written document providing directives for how you want your personal and financial matters handled after your death and who you want to serve as executor of your will to perform specific estate administration tasks. Your last will and testament can also include the following:
You can also outline other wishes in your will, such as instructions for your funeral, along with any other requests, however unusual. You can make these declarations as long as they are lawful in Virginia.
Many Virginians put some or all of their assets in a trust. A trust is a legal document that places your assets under third-party control with a designated trustee to manage them. The Commonwealth allows several trust types, such as putting the trust out of your control or keeping it under your control until your death. Our Norfolk estate planning attorneys can help you evaluate your situation, goals, and other financial considerations to help you choose the right type of trust and trust administration.
Establishing a power of attorney (POA) is essential to estate planning. In the event you become incapacitated, this document legally empowers a person or persons of your choice to make personal and financial decisions for you. In Virginia, you can select from a variety of POA options or a combination of POAs to split the decision-making responsibility between different people for your financial and personal matters.
This important document places your medical and end-of-life decision-making into the hands of a person you trust. In your directive, the document outlines your wishes and gives authority to the person of your choice to decide in your place if you cannot. This document is often referred to as a “living will.”
The above four documents are important pieces to your estate planning since they consider assets, settlement of estate taxes, debts, guardianship of minors, plans for pets, and healthcare directives. When you work with one of our knowledgeable Norfolk estate planning attorneys, you will get the assistance you need to develop documents to ensure your wishes remain intact if you pass away or become incapacitated.
When you establish an estate plan, you save your family grief, stress, and heartache. Suppose you pass away, become seriously ill, suffer an accident, or become incapacitated. In that case, your estate plans ensure all your directives are already in place for them to follow temporarily or for end-of-life medical decisions.
With clear-cut directives, you significantly reduce the likelihood of anyone declaring your will invalid or contesting it. A valid estate plan in place also means your family spends less time and money in probate court and reduces their need to hire a probate attorney to represent them in any conflicts. From a financial perspective, a significant benefit of estate planning is creating documents that legally reduce the taxes your family members and other heirs will owe from their inheritances.
Our Norfolk attorneys can help walk you through each step of the estate planning process to see how you can ease the decision-making process for your loved ones. That way, you can rest assured that everything about your trusts and estates is written as you want.
People often make mistakes in their estate planning, but the biggest one is not having a plan put together in the first place. Here are some other common mistakes people make.
While it’s nice you want to leave assets for your loved ones, it’s important to consider how gifts will affect heirs from a tax standpoint or if there are other financial repercussions. For instance, if you leave them an old home needing expensive repairs, is this in their best interest? Your Norfolk estate planning attorney can take a holistic look at your estate and help you outline how to make it easiest for your beneficiaries.
An estate plan is not a “set it and forget it” type of event. If you made a will 25 years ago but haven’t looked at it since that time, it’s likely outdated. Several significant life changes warrant updating your estate plan. You should think of your estate plan as a living document. Be sure to update it every few years.
Your attorney can review your estate plan to check that it’s still compliant with state law and that your will has up-to-date assets, beneficiaries, and powers of attorney.
Estate tax on life insurance tends to become complex, and there are several factors to consider so you don’t inadvertently create a tax nightmare for your heirs. Your attorney will discuss all options with you, including trusts, to avoid potential negative effects.
A big mistake people often make is naming their children as joint owners of their assets. This is problematic for many reasons. For starters, it gives your children’s creditors access to your money. Additionally, if your child is involved in a car accident that led to a personal injury, the other person in the crash can pursue your assets in their lawsuit. By working with an experienced estate attorney, you can protect yourself while ensuring your children receive their inheritance.
If you die without a will in the Commonwealth of Virginia, intestate law determines how to distribute your assets. State law outlines a specific order of family members who will receive your assets and, in some cases, how much. By establishing an estate plan with Montagna Law’s Norfolk estate planning lawyers, you control how your assets are distributed to the people you list as beneficiaries instead of leaving it up to a court to decide.
Working with a Norfolk estate planning attorney has numerous advantages. The lawyers at Montagna Law will sit down with you, look at your entire estate, and then tailor an estate plan to fit your lifestyle and needs.
Whether you want to establish a living trust, a will, an advanced medical directive, or address another estate planning legal issue, our attorneys are well-versed in Virginia estate law. Our law office is happy to help you with the legal services you need to achieve the peace of mind that your personal and financial matters are properly handled.
Thinking about death and end-of-life decisions is never an easy thing to do. Our compassionate attorneys at Montagna Law understand this and want to help you. We have been serving Norfolk and the entire Hampton Roads area for decades. Contact Montagna Law today if you need legal advice about your estate planning.
Jon Montagna received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999. Jon practices law in the Hampton Roads Virginia area.