Tag Archives: Northern Virginia Estate Attorney

The True Costs of Probate: How to Save Your Loved Ones Money

Probate costs and fees

How to Save on Probate Costs and Fees
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, VA

You might think you can save on estate planning costs by skipping the lawyer and writing your own will, or forgoing a will altogether. While a good estate planning attorney does cost money, their fees pale in comparison to what your loved ones will have to pay if your assets get tied up in probate court.

Probate is the process through which a deceased person’s estate is divided and distributed among his or her named beneficiaries if there is a will or to the heirs, as defined by statute, if there is no will. If a person dies intestate (without a will), a probate court will approve an administrator to manage the distribution of the deceased person’s estate as well as the payment to the administrator for providing these management services under the court’s supervision.  Assets where no will exists or where a will is improperly drafted may pass to persons you might never have intended to benefit from your estate.  In addition, if there are not sufficient assets passing through the will, your beneficiaries therein may not (due to improper planning) receive all that you might have otherwise desired.

Even if you write a will and designate your beneficiaries, a probate court still needs to review and accept the document before your beneficiaries receive their inheritance – and you can be certain that the court will take a percentage of it before passing it on.

What are some common probate fees an estate has to pay?

Like any court proceeding, the probate process will incur certain fees that are taken out of your estate, thereby reducing the total value of assets received by your beneficiaries or heirs. Here are a few common probate costs your loved ones may have to deal with upon your death:

  • Court fees. The probate court takes its fees out of your estate’s total value, as dictated by state law.
  • Appraisal fees. To determine the value of your property (both real and personal) and any business interests you owned at the time of your death, your estate will need to pay an appraiser.
  • Executor/Administrator fees. The executor of your will, whether appointed by you or the court, is entitled to a “reasonable fee” paid by your estate for carrying out their responsibilities. However, it is common for executors to waive this fee if they are already receiving a substantial inheritance from your estate.
  • Attorney’s fees. Like your executor or administrator, the attorney representing your estate in the probate process is entitled to receive payment for their services consistent with their hourly rate.
  • Accountant fees. Depending on the value and complexity of your estate, your executor/administrator may need to hire someone to file the proper tax forms, if not prepared by the attorney.

Your estate will also likely be subject to the probate tax.  In Virginia, this tax is imposed on the probate of wills and grants of administration for estates worth more than $15,000.  The tax applies to most estate property in Virginia, except: jointly held property with rights of survivorship; payable-on-death bonds; insurance proceeds paid to a named beneficiary; and property passed through a trust (see below).

How to reduce probate costs

The easiest way to lessen the financial burden of probate is to create a living trust. This estate planning tool allows you to place certain property and financial assets in the care of a designated trustee. While you may be your own trustee during your lifetime, your successor – an appointed family member, friend, or corporate bank entity, for instance – will inherit the assets in your trust upon your death, and manage them on behalf of your beneficiaries (trust beneficiaries are often minor children or grandchildren). If it is a revocable living trust, the terms can be changed at any point during your life.

Because ownership of property held in a trust does not go through the probate process, your family will not have to pay the court fees to receive their inheritance. It’s also faster and more direct than passing property solely through a will, since the court will not challenge or interfere with your decisions. As an added bonus, a trust can even help your family save on estate taxes.

Speak with an estate planning attorney

An experienced estate planning attorney knows the ins and outs of probate law, and will be able to tell you the most cost-effective ways to distribute your assets based on your circumstances. Your lawyer will ensure that your trust is properly created and legally valid, so that when the time comes, your family can receive their inheritance efficiently, and with the least costs incurred.

For more than 15 years, The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. has assisted Northern Virginia families with their estate planning needs. Contact us today to learn how we can help you create the best plan for your family’s future, and potentially reduce probate court costs for your loved ones.

Modifying Your Estate Plan: How and When To Do It

Modifying Your Estate Plan: How and When To Do It

Modifying Your Estate Plan: How and When To Do It
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg

Congratulations for setting up your estate plan. You have taken the right steps to insure that your estate is distributed as you wish following your passing. But how long ago did you create this plan? If it has been longer than three to five years ago, you might want to look at modifying it.

Life is never constant. Things can change in an instant, and circumstances in not only your life but in those of your beneficiaries surely change over time. That is why you must set periodic reviews to keep your estate plan up to date, and make changes should a significant life change event occur.

When to Modify Your Estate Plan
Common events that can change the directives in your estate plan include, but are not limited to:
• Divorce, separation, death of a spouse, marriage or remarriage
• Death of a beneficiary—family or friends
• Death of a family member from whom you might inherit
• Birth or adoption, or emancipation of a child; guardianship issues
• A child who may suffer from a disability, including drug addiction
• An elderly parent becoming steadily incapacitated due to illness or injury, to avoid the cost of a guardianship/conservatorship court case
• Your own health issues
• Starting or closing a business
• Acquisition or loss of assets
• Changing your mind

How To Make Changes
The most common way to alter your estate plan documents that can include your Last Will, Living Will, Trust or Power of Attorney is through a Codicil to Will or Living Trust Amendment. These documents replace old clauses in your will with new ones. In some cases the change involves only a simple amendment to existing documents, while at other times, an entire rewrite may be necessary. Your estate attorney will assist you in creating and filing the appropriate documents.

Overall, the best strategy is to review your estate plan at regular intervals, and update it should a significant event occur. This will ensure that your estate, and your legacy, will pass on as you planned as smoothly as possible.

For Questions About Modifying Your Estate Plan, Contact the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C.
To modify your existing estate plan, or to create a new Will, Living Will, Trust, Power of Attorney or any other estate document, contact estate planning attorneys Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C.

Did You Know that Your Attorney-Client Privilege Survives Even After Your Death?

Did You Know that Your Attorney-Client Privilege Survives Even After Your Death? NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

Did You Know that Your Attorney-Client Privilege Survives Even After Your Death?
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

As estate planning attorneys, we help our clients develop estate plans, or how they plan to manage and pass along their wealth and property after they die. What people may not realize, however, is that sometimes our job extends past death, as in the case of what happens when family members challenge the terms of a Will or Trust.

Our loyalty is always with our client, which means that your attorney-client privilege will survive you, even after your death. This should provide you with some reassurance that any disinherited heirs or other family members cannot pick apart your estate plan or obtain private communications you hold with us, your attorney, in order to challenge the Will or Trust. This private information includes verbal, written and recorded communications.

However, not everyone can challenge a Will or Trust, according to basic probate laws, only “interested persons” may, and only for valid reasons. Interested persons may include children, heirs, spouses, devisees, creditors or anyone else who may have a property right or claim against the estate, and generally fall into one of three categories: the beneficiaries of a prior will or a subsequent will and intestate heirs.

According to our code of legal ethics, our duty continues post-representation in perpetuity, even after the client is deceased. A lawyer may, however, disclose the deceased client’s information if the lawyer believes the decedent would have wanted the information disclosed if he or she were still alive. In addition, a lawyer may disclose confidential information to the decedent’s successor (their executor or trustee) when it is necessary to facilitate administration of the decedent’s estate.

Have Questions About Your Estate Plan? Contact Us.
There are many questions about ethics when it comes to the law, and what an attorney can and cannot legally do, and what you can rely on. We would be glad to answer any questions you might have.

If you are just setting up your estate plan, or have questions about your existing documents, we encourage you to contact attorneys Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. We specialize in estate planning law. Contact us today.

Have You Included a Revocable Living Trust in your Estate Plan?

Tichenor Law

Revocable Living Trust in your Estate Plan
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

The year 2016 will see an increase in the exemptions from estate death taxes to $5.45M per individual ($10.9M per couple). As a result, this leaves more of an estate to pass down to your inheritors, and more to consider in your inheritance plan.

While many think the best way to ensure a smooth passage of property may be a Will Plan, there is an alternative: a Revocable Living Trust.

A Will vs. a Revocable Living Trust

A will is a legal document that records your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and care of minor children upon your death. A revocable living trust is an estate planning tool that also determines who will inherit your property, but is called “revocable” because it can be changed as your circumstances or wishes change during your lifetime. It transfers your property to a trustee during your lifetime and aids in avoiding probate administration upon your death. While a revocable living trust may be the lead document in your estate plan, it should be accompanied by a will.

The Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust Plan

    1. Revocable trust planning is not just about taxes and whether you owe them to the IRS when you die. A RTP is about privacy, which assets you pass through probate, and the management of assets located in more than one State (jurisdiction).
    2. Revocable trust planning can provide a management tool for a person in ill health, or for someone who knows their health is declining and wants to avoid probate issues for his or her family later on.
    3. Revocable trust planning can also provide an effective tool to management inheritance for children for the years until they are mature enough to manage for themselves what you’ve left behind. It also ensures that your estate does not end up in the hands of someone else through a child’s estate plan should the child inherit from you outright.

While a will is good, a revocable living trust plan can provide you with more options and more security. It’s worth looking into with your estate planning attorney.

Contact Your Attorney
At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., attorneys Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi specialize in family law and estate planning to assist people with family law issues.  Call us today.

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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