Everyone should have a will!
There are many reasons to have a will, even for those who have small estates. Dying without a will results in assets being distributed under state intestacy laws, which may be at odds with your intentions. A will is crucial for parents of minor children to name a guardian and make arrangements for the physical and financial care of children in the event that both parents are deceased. A will also names an executor who will be responsible for administering your estate and ensuring that your wishes are carried out. Through a will you can ensure that your assets pass to your intended beneficiaries. If you own real estate that is not titled with survivorship you need a will to pass title to designated heirs or beneficiaries. You can protect family heirlooms and direct that specific assets or specific amounts of money go to certain people, or to a church or charity of your choice. If you are re-married a will can ensure that children from a prior marriage receive a share of your estate. Business owners should use a will as part of a business succession plan. Finally, a will and related trust documents may provide tax benefits to your surviving spouse, children or other heirs.
A will is just one component of a comprehensive estate plan. You may want to title certain assets, like real estate, with survivorship so that your heirs can avoid probate. Bank accounts, brokerage accounts and securities can be owned with pay-on-death provisions. Life insurance policies should be updated periodically to ensure that your intended beneficiaries are properly named. A trust may be a useful tool for protecting your assets while you are alive and ensuring they pass to the next generation. A trust may also provide tax benefits.
Powers of attorney and medical directives are also important components of an estate plan. A power of attorney names a designated representative to act on your behalf under certain circumstances, such as disability or incapacity. A medical directive instructs healthcare providers and family members how to handle certain medical situations if you are unable to make medical decisions on your own.
Be wary of on-line services and will forms. Wills must be properly drafted and executed in order to be probated (legally recognized and administered) in Virginia. Every client’s family and financial situation is unique. We will work with you and your financial advisors or estate planning professionals to ensure that you receive a comprehensive, personalized estate plan.