Woodbridge Estate Planning Lawyers Helping You and Your Family Find Peace of Mind and Protect Your Future
Discussing what will happen to your assets after you die is an uncomfortable issue for many, and tends to be left aside. But failing to have at least a minimal level of preparation can threaten the integrity of your assets and cause a lot of stress for your loved ones if you were to become incapacitated or pass away.
Attorney James Johnson’s primary focus while in law school was Estate Planning. This allows him and his legal team at the Johnson Law Firm, PC to offer high-quality estate planning services tailored to each individual and their needs while spotting and avoiding common errors other attorneys may make. Here are a few key aspects to consider regarding planning your estate.
What Documents Do I Need to Begin Estate Planning in Virginia?
The primary documents you need to have in place is a living will or healthcare directive, a power of attorney, and a last will. These documents work together to help your family make decisions about your care and finances if you become incapacitated (either permanently or temporarily unable to speak for yourself) and lets them know your wishes for end-of-life care as well as how you wish your property and assets to be divided among heirs when you pass away.
If you have more complex assets or would like to avoid probate, you may opt for setting up a living trust in addition to the documents mentioned above. A will may not be enough to address all aspects of your estate, and a trust may not be right for everybody. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to estate planning, and an attorney can assist you in making sure you have the best plans for your specific situation.
Do I Only Need to Do Estate Planning if I am Wealthy or Aging?
This is a common misconception that estate planning is reserved only for those who have amassed a high net-worth and for those who are older. The sooner you begin your estate planning process, the better you are able to ensure your future and that of your loved ones. Besides, even if you are younger and don’t have many assets, it is still important to have a way of letting your loved ones know about your wishes in case you are unable to speak for yourself and assign someone to make health and financial decisions on your behalf.
Estate planning becomes even more urgent when you go through major life events such as getting married (or re-married), purchasing a home, having a child, or getting a divorce. Those are good opportunities to write out your plans or update them to reflect your new situation. Just as life changes, so do your estate plan documents. Make sure to review them every 3 to 5 years or whenever you go through a major life event.
What is the Difference Between a Living Will and a Last Will?
A living will outlines your wishes for how you want to be cared for in case you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated and cannot make medical or financial decisions for yourself. It appoints someone – usually a family member or close friend – as an agent with authority to instruct doctors about your preferences (such as whether you agree to receive CPR and life support, for example) and enables them to make important medical treatment decisions on your behalf.
A living will does not address any property-related matters; it contains instructions for what should happen while you are still alive but incapacitated. A will – also called last will and testament in some places – is a document written while you are still living and contains your wishes for what should happen to your assets after you die, who will inherit them, and how they will be divided among heirs. Both documents work together as part of your estate plans and need to be updated every 3 to 5 years or whenever your preferences change.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me Through the Estate Planning Process?
While you are not required to have an attorney, setting out to plan your estate can be a daunting task for most. Most clients find it beneficial to rely on the knowledge and skills of our estate planning law firm to assist them in crafting their estate planning documents, providing guidance, and even asking them important questions they may not have thought of on their own. If you need to begin your estate planning process or have questions, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with the Johnson Law Firm, PC to learn all your options. reach out to us today at 703-670-076.