Gainesville Estate Planning Lawyers Helping Clients and Their Loved Ones to Protect Their Assets for the Next Generation
Estate Planning is one of those subjects many dread to talk about because nobody likes pondering what life will look like for their families after they die. But the truth is proper estate planning can save your loved ones from struggling financially after they can no longer rely on your income. Whether you are just starting a family or are enjoying your retirement years, there is no right or wrong age to begin crafting your estate plans. The Johnson Law Firm, PC, offers a variety of estate planning services, from wills to trusts and everything in between, and has helped many Gainesville families to protect their assets for the next generation.
Is Virginia a Probate State?
This is a very common question our legal team receives. While the state of Virginia does not have a separate probate court, estates belonging to someone who died without a will or any assets solely owned by the person who passed away will require going to probate before it can be passed on to heirs.
Even if the decedent died with a valid will, probate will still be necessary to record the will and confirm its validity. If any debts and taxes are pending, they will need to be paid before assets can be transferred to beneficiaries. For states that are considered “small” or with a total value of less than $50,000.00, Virginia offers a simplified probate process as opposed to a formal process required for larger estates.
Formal probate requires the appointment of a person that will be responsible for handling all estate matters, paying bills, contacting beneficiaries, and distributing assets that are left over after all bills and taxes have been paid. This person is usually referred to as an executor and can be named by the decedent on the will or appointed by a judge when necessary (i.e., there was no will or no executor had been named on the will).
How Do I Determine Which Estate Planning Option is Best for Me?
There are many points to consider when crafting your estate planning documents, but a very important first step is to determine your personal goals. Consider how you want to spend the last part of your life and what you want your family to do in case you become incapacitated. Will you have enough funds for long-term care? Can you afford a nursing home? Do you wish to avoid probate? These and many other questions will determine the best estate planning tools and documents for you and your loved ones.
What is at Risk?
Estate planning focuses on preserving your assets for the next generation, and while that is traditionally thought of as how your assets will be split up among heirs by means of a will, proper estate planning should also include measures to preserve your wealth from unexpected situations while you are still living. If all your life savings are spent on long-term care or nursing home fees at the end of your life, you may be left with no estate to pass on, no matter how well-written your last will may be.
How Can an Estate Planning Attorney Help?
Whether you want to keep your estate out of probate or want to minimize estate taxes, hiring a seasoned estate planning attorney is a smart move to understand all of your options and get a clear picture of what documents you may need. At the Johnson Law Firm, PC, we take a comprehensive approach to ensure you can comfortably enjoy your retirement years while still making sure your family can continue on and be financially stable after you pass on. Attorney James Johnson takes time to understand your personal goals and help you craft an effective estate plan regardless of the size and valuation of your assets.
For some, a living will and power of attorney along with a last will may be enough, while others may require more advanced estate planning tools such as revocable living trusts for larger estates with more complex assets or multiple beneficiaries. An attorney can help you make the right choice, and can also help you make changes and updates on a regular basis or whenever you go through a significant life event (such as the birth of a child or a divorce). Regardless of your estate size and value, the most important thing is to not procrastinate on creating your estate documents as tomorrow is never guaranteed for anyone. Contact the Johnson Law Firm, PC, at (703) 884-8003to get started with your estate plans today.