Estate Planning

We’re Here To Help; Understanding Estate Planning – Estate planning focuses on transferring a person’s estate at the time of their death. An “estate” consists of all property owned at death before it’s distribution by a will, trust, or state law. 

You don’t need to be wealthy to have an estate plan. If you have property, heirlooms, or anything you’d like delegated in a specific manner, you’ll need to consider an estate plan and a will. Now, an estate plan should include a will and power of attorney (both business and medical decisions), and in some cases, trusts. Tending to your estate and cementing crucial decisions can be complicated and overwhelming. We’re here to help with a team of dedicated professionals in any way, working towards giving you confidence for whatever the future may hold. 

Will and Testaments

Making sure that you have a will after your passing is crucial to a smooth transition from both a legal and personal perspective. A will is one of the key components in how your assets, property and more will be dispersed following your passing.

Trusts

When creating a trust, the individual or settlor, will work with their lawyer to figure out how parts or all of their assets will be transferred while being put into the possession of the trustees. This protects assets from taxes and bypasses the probate process.

Power of Attorney

A POA is a document that gives an individual chosen by you, the principal, the legal authority in matters pertaining to finances and health. Power of Attorneys are typically enacted in times of illness, disability, or when the principal can’t be present to sign necessary legal documents.

Living Wills

There are numerous aspects to living wills, but the main purpose of this course of action is to allow the individual to designate a trustee to oversee and manage their assets in preparation for the beneficiary. This makes the transfer of assets easier once the grantor passes, and allows in most instances to skip probate.

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FAQ

How do I get help administrating an estate?

You should retain an attorney who works regularly in estate administration. Word-of-mouth referrals are best, so ask your friends and contacts if they have a probate attorney they have used. A simple google search for “estate planning attorney” or “probate attorney” might also yield results. Alternatively, try searching online for “estate planning council” combined with the area where you need to administer the estate. (For example, the following areas/cities have their own councils: Hampton Roads, Richmond, Northern Virginia). In Virginia, many probate attorneys are members of estate planning councils, and the council directories are often published online.

How quickly can real property be sold from an estate?

If real property is sold within one year of the decedent’s death, the purchaser and the title company will insist on certain protections against creditors who have valid claims against the estate but have not yet asserted them. In addition, parties with an interest in the estate will not yet have had the full one-year period in which to file a complaint to contest the validity of the Will. If the real property is sold within one-year of the decedent’s death, the proceeds for sale can be held in an escrow account which is available to the Personal Representative to pay legitimate estate expenses. Also, in some cases, it is possible to obtain a surety bond allowing the beneficiaries to obtain the sale proceeds.

What happens to someone’s debts when they die?

Death does not extinguish the claims against a person. Probate is designed to protect the right of beneficiaries and creditors. Each creditor has a right to file his, her or its claim against the estate with the Commissioner of Accounts. The Commissioner then adjudicates the claim on its merits and reports to the Court. If a claim is uncontested by a Personal Representative, the Personal Representative and the Claimant can agree to the terms of payment. Filing a claim with the Commissioner can be done informally.

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