You May Want to Consider Holding Power of Attorney for Your Adult Child

You May Want to Consider Holding Power of Attorney for Your Adult Child

You May Want to Consider Holding Power of Attorney for Your Adult Child
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg

Your child is always your child, except in the eyes of the law where an 18 year old is considered to be legal adults. However, as many parents know, at this age, or even beyond, many children are still not ready to be on their own and may need your input or assistance in major life decisions or managing finances. Even though they may be off to college, or entering military service, and you still may be paying their way, you may not have any say in their affairs should something happen and they need your help.

At age 18, children are also deemed emancipated for HIPAA purposes. This means that their privacy is protected under the law—even from their parents—unless they have a medical directive or medical power of attorney in place.

If an unfortunate circumstance should occur, as for example, your child was injured in campus violence incident or had a serious car accident, you, as parents, would have no access to health-related records, or would not be able to make decisions on their behalf if needed, unlike when they were minor children. With the increase of gun violence on campuses and distracted driving, pre-determining a plan might just help put your mind to rest, and offer protection for all parties.

Every 18-year-old needs these two essential documents

That is why we at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor P.L.L.C. highly recommend creating two essential estate planning documents: a durable general power of attorney (for financial matters) and a durable medical power of attorney (for health-related matters). Encourage your child to put one in place after they turn 18, so they can ensure that you will be able to make decisions as to your child’s finances and health care in the event they are unable to do so themselves. Doing so will avoid the greater expense, stress and delay, if they are not in place, of seeking those rights for your child through a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding in the courts. Even though you most often hear about these two documents for older people, they should be considered for younger folks as well.

A financial power of attorney can be customized to your child’s needs, general (covering all financial matters) or specific (relating to just one aspect of the adult child’s finances). Your child can appoint these responsibilities as well to different family members or trusted advisors as alternates or successors to you.

A power of attorney can be useful in other ways too, such as if your child is traveling abroad and requires money wired from the adult child’s bank account, or needs to have legal documents like a lease signed in the child’s absence. The small fee you pay to set up proper powers of attorney will be well worth it in the end.

Contact your estate planning attorney

At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., we are specialists in estate planning and can help you protect your family members. Please call to set an appointment at our convenient Northern Virginia office with either Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi, attorneys at law.

Estate Planning When You Own a Business

Estate Planning When You Own a Business_NOVA Estate Lawyers - Leesburg

Estate Planning When You Own a Business
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg

When you own a business, a large part of your family’s income and wealth is most likely tied up in the business. Therefore, you need to plan what will happen to that business following your becoming incapacitated or your death. This type of estate planning is often called succession planning.

You may want to keep the business running within your family. You may want to sell it at a fair price and split the profits, either before or after you pass away. Or you may want to ensure that the business passes along to existing co-owners. No matter which outcome you choose, planning ahead will help your business survive and aid in preventing large or unexpected tax liabilities.

Without proper planning, even if the business should die along with the owner, estate taxes can still be owed. This type of tax, known as the IRS’ death tax, can range from 35% to 50% of the business value, and is due within nine months of the death. Lack of liquid funds can result in the sale of a business at far below its actual value.

Your estate plan for business succession takes careful preparation, especially if it is owner-dependent, as with many professional practices. You must consider the systematic transfer of management, assets and ownership, and answer questions like “Who will own the business.”

If the business has co-owners, partners or shareholders, you might want to establish an agreement that the remaining owners automatically purchase the shared interest in order to avoid family members from taking interest. It can also establish a sale price and allow or disallow partners to purchase your share. This is known as a buy-sell agreement.  Funds to purchase shares of an existing business often come from life insurance, and an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) can be created to provide funding for the buy-sell agreement.

For a family-owned business, decisions as to which family members will inherit and run the business need to be made, and questions like “If two children will be involved in the business and one will not, should the assets be divided equally?” should be answered.

One of the main reasons for creating a succession plan for your business is to avoid probate and minimize estate tax burdens. You may want to establish a trust that transfers your business assets to your family members or partners while still providing you with an income. This is known as a grantor-retained annuity trust (GRAT) or grantor-retained unitrust (GRUT). Or you could establish a family limited partnership to hold the business assets. Because the rules for establishing trusts are complex, it is always best to consult with your attorney.

Contact Your Estate Planning Attorney

Creating any estate plan takes time, and it is never too soon to set a succession plan into place, especially since death could happen unexpectedly. That is why you need to talk to an estate planning attorney like Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi at The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. Located in Reston, and serving clients throughout Northern Virginia, we can help you create an estate plan to ensure proper succession of your business and your assets. Contact us today.

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Kept Quiet

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Kept Quiet <br>NOVA Estate Lawyers - Leesburg

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Kept Quiet
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg

Although we all want our happy ending, domestic violence happens. It can begin with verbal abuse such as shouting or name calling, then escalate over time to pushing, hitting, and sometimes even death. Within the Cycle of Abuse, your abuser apologizes for his or her actions, begging your forgiveness and promising never to do it again. But then it happens again. And again. The same cycle.

Often the violence escalates. The abuser tells the victim it is all their fault, or that no one will believe them if they tell others. They create fear in their victim that discourages the victim from leaving.

This pattern, or cycle, of domestic violence is not indicative of a healthy relationship. Nor should it be accepted. Your safety, and the safety of your children, is at risk.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is defined as a willful and systematic pattern of control of one intimate partner over another that can include physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse. It also includes willful intimidation, physical or sexual assault and battery, and other abuse behavior.

Because it is such a difficult issue, domestic violence law was developed to punish those who cause physical or emotional harm to those with whom they share a close relationship. The most notable Federal legislation is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA); however, most domestic violence offenses are prosecuted under state law. Although they vary from state to state, convictions for domestic violence require specific standards for the defendant’s conduct and relationship to the victim in reference to direct and indirect contact.

Domestic Violence Presents Shocking Statistics

As reported by the National Domestic Hotline:

  • On average, 24 people each minute are victims of physical violence, stalking or rape by an intimate partner.
  • Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men in the United States have experienced physical violence, stalking or rape by a partner
  • Approximately 80% of female victims were previously victimized by the same intimate partner.

And domestic violence doesn’t just happen to women. Fifteen percent of domestic violence victims are men reports the Huffington Post.

What is confusing to many is why victims stay with their abusers. There are many reasons. They may stay because they or their children have been threatened, or they may be fearful of what actions their abuser might take once they leave—whether to themselves, those who left, or other family members. Abusers can also employ psychological abuse where they call their victims names and put them down. This creates a cycle of self-doubt and worthlessness that leaves the victim unable to take action. Some victims are even convinced that they caused the abuse.

What to Do if You are a Victim of Domestic Abuse

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911 and report your abuse to the police. They can issue a short-term Emergency Protective Order on the spot. Keep records of all police reports and incidents. This will be helpful in filing future actions if necessary. If you are injured, seek medical attention, and take photographs of your injuries. This will also aid in supporting your claims.
  • Engage the support of those who care about you, whether they are family members, neighbors, friends or professionals. Tell others about the abuse privately. You do not need to go through this alone.
  • Create a safe escape plan for yourself and your children in case you must leave your home quickly. Have a destination planned or contact your local domestic violence shelter for safe and anonymous harbor. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Doorways’ 24-hour confidential domestic and sexual violence hotline at 703-237-0881 locally.

Contact Your Family Law Attorney
As family law attorneys in Northern Virginia, The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor P.L.L.C. can assist clients in filing a Temporary Restraining Order or Protective Order that will force the abuser to stay away. We can also aid in creating a case against the abuser and defending our clients in court for child custody and support issues, property settlements, and divorce proceedings. Call attorneys Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi today to get an experienced advocate on your side.

The Act of Revoking or Changing a Will

The Act of Revoking or Changing a Will

The Act of Revoking or Changing a Will
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, VA

Once you have prepared your Will, whether through a trusted attorney or by using an on-line software program, there may come a time when you need to update or change it. Since life is never stagnant, you should ensure that any life changes appear in your Will so that your wishes are carried out following your death.

It is not unusual for people to try to make changes to their Will simply by hand-writing on their existing Will, or typing up a short, separate letter to put with their Will. Unfortunately, these methods of making updates or changes are not only unlikely to be unenforceable, but, in the worst-case scenario, they may actually result in your invalidating your existing estate plan in its entirety.

Even if you use an attorney and have them prepare a Codicil to your existing Will, this separate document that adds to or amends the terms of your Will is often misplaced or lost by the time of your death. This is why it is often better to have a new Will prepared and signed which revokes your existing Will, thereby ensuring that your most current plans or wishes are honored. A Codicil is also best used when there is not enough time to prepare and sign a new Will and only so long as very small or simple changes are to be made. A new Will that clearly states your intention to revoke all prior Wills will cancel your original Will.

Can a Power of Attorney Change a Will?
If you have issued Power of Attorney to someone, they are not granted the right to change your Last Will and Testament, although they may be able to do damage to your estate by liquidating or moving assets you intended to pass along to your beneficiaries. To prevent this, you should consider appointing more than one person to serve as your financial Power of Attorney and specify that they must act either unanimously or by majority when it comes to determining your affairs. If abuse is suspected, your loved ones can file a case for breach of fiduciary duty with the courts, but that does not ensure that your beneficiaries are able to recoup the value of missing or mishandled assets. This can be especially difficult where transfers involve real estate holdings, stock, or even family heirlooms.

Reasons to Change your Will
Both your circumstances and the law can change, and this may trigger the desire to make changes to your Will. In addition, you should periodically review your estate plan (Will and Powers of Attorney) to ensure that your current circumstances and goals are properly addressed. Such changes can be triggered by new or changed relationships as a result of a divorce, re-marriage, birth or adoption of a child, emancipation of a special needs child, disability of yourself or a beneficiary of your existing documents, or a newly-acquired asset including money and real estate. In addition, obtaining guidance on how to avoid probate for assets that you may wish to pass outside the terms of your Will can be invaluable advice when updating your estate plan.

Contact Your Attorney
To create a legal and binding Will, to make changes to an existing Will, or to prevent eventualities that may impede your ability to pass along your assets to your beneficiaries, it is always best to consult with an Attorney. At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., attorneys Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi are specialists in the area of estate law and can assist with all matters concerning Wills, Trusts, and Estates. Contact us today.

Post-Nuptial Agreements – Could a Contract Save Your Marriage?

Post-Nuptial Agreements-Could a Contract Save Your Marriage?

Post-Nuptial Agreements – Could a Contract Save Your Marriage?
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg

As strange as it may seem, a post-marital or post-nuptial contract might be the secret to a strong marriage. It could also heal the wounds that might otherwise result in divorce.

This can be especially true for people who are re-marrying and bringing with them separate assets, an inheritance from a deceased parents, or children from a prior marriage for whom they want to ensure protection of their inheritance. Having an agreement in place can save them the thousands of dollars it may cost them to secure in a contested divorce.

Post-nuptial or post-marital contracts can also be customized to meet the unique goals of each couple, whether dealing with chores or other household responsibilities and how these tasks might be divided between the couple, or addressing the use of therapy and relationship-building exercises in the face of a spouse’s infidelity.

What is a Post-Nuptial Agreement?
A post-nuptial agreement is a formal, written agreement created and executed after a couple marries or enters a civil union, with the intent to settle a couple’s assets and affairs in the event of a separation of divorce. It might cover matters such as property division, spousal support, death of a spouse, or the breakup of a marriage. In most states, child support and child custody are not included in a post-nuptial agreement.

There are generally three types of post-nuptial agreements:
1. One that assigns marital property upon death of one spouse;
2. One that creates a separation agreement in order to avoid time and cost of divorce proceedings; and
3. One that limits or sets forth rights in a future divorce, such as limiting alimony based on duration of the marriage, waiving alimony, or addressing marital property division.

Similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, there are certain legal requirements for the post-nuptial agreement to be valid (and these vary state-by-state):
• Written agreement
• Voluntarily executed without coercion or force
• Full and fair disclosure of assets, income, property, and debts
• Fair (not one-sided)
• Signed by both parties and notarized

When Should I Prepare a Post-Nuptial Agreement?
There are no guidelines for when to prepare your post-nuptial agreement. Some couples create one when tensions are high, others put one into place to protect assets and future assets. Before agreeing to any post-nuptial document, have an experienced family law attorney review it—especially if you are feeling uneasy about it. You can always negotiate the terms prior to signing, but not afterwards. Most agreements will withstand a challenge in the courts, leaving you stuck with something you might not want or should not have agreed to.

Contact Your Attorney

Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor in Northern Virginia are experienced family law attorneys who can help you navigate the process of drafting and reviewing post-nuptial/post-marital agreements. Please contact us today—before you sign.

The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C.
Professional Legal Services or Legal Representation
(703) 669-6700

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  • High quality service with both personal and a professional touch. I would highly recommend their services, they helped prepare my estate in the event of my demise. They also prepared the necessary documents to complete my wife's estate after her passing, both with outstanding results. - Jim D.
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