Estate Planning

Estate planning is one of those topics that most people know will not go away of its own accord. They know they should meet with an attorney and develop a plan that works for their specific situation and that of their families. That would be the best solution, as they can make knowing, informed decisions regarding the disposition of their assets and avoid causing additional stress to their family due to the lack of a comprehensive plan.

What If You Do Not Have An Estate Plan?

So, what happens if you die without an estate plan? Well, the Commonwealth of Virginia has a plan for you. It is known as the intestate succession law and it will decide for you the disposition of your assets. This law may be "good enough" for many, but it will never be ideal.

It is a one-size-fits-all plan, no matter your details. It may not transfer assets where you would have wished, does nothing for asset protection and it may cause very negative tax consequences. Our attorney at Edwards Law Firm can discuss your needs and help you develop a comprehensive estate plan that will prevent the negative consequences of allowing an estate to proceed to an intestate administration.

The Advantages Of An Estate Plan

The primary advantage of an estate plan is that it is more than just a last will and testament. It resolves the majority of the elder law issues that accompany your incapacity or death. A will can distribute your assets, create testamentary trusts, and allocate personal property. A trust can protect you, your spouse and your children, including those from a first marriage, and prevent some unpleasant tax consequences that may otherwise occur.

Advance Directives And Powers Of Attorney

A comprehensive estate plan should also include advance health care directives, sometimes known as "living wills" and powers of attorney. Should you suffer an accident or illness that causes your incapacity, a power of attorney authorizes a spouse or trusted family member to act on your behalf, pay your bills and make other legal decisions during this time.

They can eliminate the need for a complex, stressful and expensive guardianship proceeding. During a time of incapacity, an advance directive can be helpful for your family and reduce stress should you not be able to communicate your wishes regarding your medical care.

Trust Agreements

A Trust agreement has many advantages to insure property is used according to the Trust Creator's wishes during lifetime and after death and to protect property from creditors, known as a spendthrift trust. A Trust may be part of a Will, such as a Testator's Trust, or it may be a separate Living Trust, called an Intervivos Trust, during the lifetime of the Beneficiary and also after the death of the Creator. Trusts may be revocable or irrevocable. They may be created to protect the assets of a child to a certain age of maturity, or set up to avoid probate and costs of administration of an estate after death. There are many and varied uses of Trusts. For those wishing to make donations to a charitable or educational institution after death, a charitable lead Trust may be desirable to allow the Trust income to be paid to the Creator and spouse during lifetime, and the remaining assets to the charitable institution after death. Our attorney has experience in drafting the appropriate Trust to meet the unique circumstances, needs and desires of the client.

Special Needs Trusts

A Special Needs Trust can protect the property and assets of a "special needs" child or adult from being "spent down" to qualify for Medicaid or SSI or other governmental services due to governmental requirements and allow the Trustee hold the assets and to make expenditures for those "extra" things of life over and above what is provided for by government services. Our attorney has unique experience in drafting Special Needs Trusts for those exceptional situations where one may be needed or desirable.

Contact Our Firm

The future is always uncertain and estate planning issues are better taken care of today than put off for tomorrow. Contact our lawyer today for help with creating your will and trust, as well as advance directives. Call our Roanoke office at 540-985-8625 or use our convenient online contact form.