Estate Planning Law
Virginia Estate Planning
Have you made preparations for what will happen to your estate after you die? There will be multiple things to consider before that time comes, like who will manage your final affairs and who will inherit your personal and real property.
There are plenty of tools to help you with estate planning in Virginia. Whether you live in Chesapeake, Norfolk or Virginia Beach, you have access to legal estate planning resources like wills, living trusts, advance directives and more. Using LawInfo’s Virginia estate planning articles, you can learn about the legal ins and outs of securing your family’s future and connect with a qualified local attorney.
Virginia Advance Health Care Directives
As you plan your estate and other affairs for when you die, you should also plan for what should happen if you become incapacitated from making decisions or taking care of your health. What would happen if you went into a coma or you reach an age where you can’t reliably handle your medical needs?
A Virginia advance health care directive is one of several legal documents you can make to ensure that your health care wishes are met when you’re no longer able to voice them. With an advance directive, you can:
- Specify the types of health care you authorize or prohibit.
- Donate parts or your whole body after death for research or medical purposes.
- Name a health care agent to make health care decisions in your stead.
A will is used to make your wishes concerning your estate’s assets and guardianship for minor children known. Upon your death, your will is probated by a court which oversees the management of your will by an executor. The executor (who you may name in your will) notifies the will’s beneficiaries, settles your final debts and taxes using your estate and distributes the remainder to the beneficiaries according to your wishes.
While a will is a good way to ensure that the right people get what you want them to inherit, not all of your assets may be distributed through a will. You can’t use a will to change who will get a certain portion of your estate if those assets are reserved for other beneficiaries through:
- Living trusts.
- Business partnerships.
- Survivorship rules (e.g. if the assets are marital property, they will pass to your surviving spouse).
- Joint ownership.
- Securities with “transfer on death” or “pay on death” clauses.
Virginia Living Trusts
A living trust is another legal document you could use to ensure assets transfer to specific beneficiaries when you die. There are several advantages to making a living trust, including privacy and avoiding probate. But not every estate is right for a living trust and a trust is not a replacement for a will.
A living trust is created when you (the settlor) transfer ownership of real and/or personal assets to a trustee, who will administer those assets for your benefit during your lifetime. Once you die, the trustee will settle your final debts and estate taxes and administer the remaining assets to your beneficiaries.