What Happens When You Die Without a Will in Virginia?

Having a valid, signed Will is incredibly important in case anything unexpected happens to you. This document outlines instructions for how to preserve, manage, and distribute your property and assets after your death. Dying without having a Will in place, also known as dying intestate, could have major consequences for your loved ones and may […]

Will Executor Versus Power of Attorney: Who Does What?

When you’re making your estate plans, it’s important to understand the difference between the role of an attorney-in-fact under a power of attorney and an executor under a Will.  While both involve appointing another person to carry out your wishes, their duties are slightly different and carried out at different times. Read on to discover […]

6 Estate Planning Tips for Unmarried Individuals

Most estate planning advice you’ll find on the internet speaks to those individuals who are married and have a spouse and/or children to whom they plan to leave their estate. However, many individuals are now marrying later in life, opting not to remarry after a divorce, or never marrying at all — and their estate […]

Estate Planning Tips for Every Age

Many people don’t start thinking about estate planning until later in life. However, it’s never too early for an adult to start thinking about their plans. Just like planning for retirement, it’s best to start making your plans early if you want your loved ones to avoid unnecessary struggles when you die, especially if you […]

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your Will

There’s a lot that goes into writing a Will, and it can be easy to miss a step or forget to add important sections altogether. To help you avoid these types of issues, here are seven common mistakes to look out for when you’re writing a Will and what to do instead. 1. Ignoring state […]

What If No One Wants to Be My Executor?

For many people, choosing an executor for their estate means asking a spouse, adult child, or close friend or relative to take on an important responsibility after they’ve died. However, a friend or family member isn’t always the best person to serve as executor — and in some cases, the person you ask may not […]

5 Executor Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When you’re named as an executor of a Will, you’ll have a lot on your plate, and your responsibilities might seem overwhelming. However, this role is important and requires careful attention and consideration. To help you fulfill your responsibilities as an executor, here are five common mistakes executors make and how to avoid them. 1. […]

What Happens to Your Online Content When You Die?

While it’s not a happy thought, you might wonder what happens to your online content when you pass away. Each social media platform has different protocols for handling a user’s “digital estate” after death, providing various options from memorializing an account to full deletion. Here’s how you can protect your digital estate and look ahead […]

What Is a No Contest Clause?

If you’re afraid your heirs might challenge your Will, you can add a no contest clause to protect your wishes. With this clause in your legal arsenal, your beneficiaries likely won’t risk challenging your Will and losing everything you left them. They may, however, first seek a court judgment as to whether a claim would […]

How to Decide Who Gets What in a Will

Depending on your family dynamic and life circumstances, estate planning can be a challenging and even uncomfortable task. It’s difficult enough to contemplate your own mortality, let alone planning out who in your life should receive your money, property, and possessions after you die. If you’re struggling to figure out how to divide up your […]

A Guide for Issues and Considerations for Wills in Blended Families

These days, blended families are becoming more common, and the structure of families is looking increasingly less nuclear. A typical family may have natural children, stepchildren, ex in-laws, and other extended relatives who may or may not still be involved in each other’s lives. Because blended families have previous relationships and ties outside of their […]

How to Update Your Will When You Move Out of State

There are a few important life events that warrant a review and update of your estate plans. One such event is moving to another State. Each state has its own unique probate and estate planning laws. This means you may want to consult with an attorney if you move to another State so ensure that […]

Help! I Can’t Find My Loved One’s Will

Every person should prepare a plan with regard to their estate, big or small, including drafting and getting expert advice on how to avoid probate otherwise, so that their wishes are honored by their loved ones when they pass away. However, the executor of a Will normally needs to have access to the original Will […]

What Is a Power of Attorney?

If you’re new to the estate planning process, you may have heard the term “power of attorney” (POA) come up. However, you may not know exactly what that means or the authority that it grants. Knowing what POA is and who to appoint to serve in this critical role should be a key part of […]

How to Find the Right Estate Planning Attorney for You

Whether you’re drafting your first Will, creating a trust, or updating an existing estate plan, it’s important to work with a qualified estate planning attorney. But how do you find the right one for you? If you’re a Virginia resident, here are some tips for vetting and hiring an estate planning attorney in your area. […]

Common Types of Trusts and When to Use Them

Trusts can be a smart estate planning tool to supplement a valid Will. There are several different types of trusts you can establish, and the right one(s) for your needs will depend on: (1) how and when you want your beneficiaries to inherit what you leave them; (2) the types of assets you want them […]

What You Do and Don’t Need from Your Estate Planning Attorney

Whether you’re drafting your first Will or updating an existing plan, it’s important to work with a trusted estate planning attorney throughout your lifetime. Not only does this ensure your final wishes are documented and all your beneficiaries and heirs are covered, but it also provides you peace of mind knowing your plans are legally […]

Why (and How) to Disinherit Someone from Your Will

No matter your current age or status in life, it’s important to keep a valid and updated Will to secure your loved ones’ financial future. Sometimes, this means making adjustments when certain people you once intended to leave part of your estate to are no longer an active part of your life. Disinheritance is the […]

How to Create an Estate Plan for a Disabled Beneficiary

Many people choose to create an estate plan to provide for their loved ones after their death. In some cases, this may include providing care for a person with a physical or mental disability. If you intend to leave any portion of your estate to a disabled beneficiary, it’s crucial to develop your plan carefully […]

6 Common Reasons to Update Your Will

Writing your Will isn’t normally a one-and-done process. Your life is ever-changing, and from time to time, you’ll want to revisit and revise your will to match your current situation.  Changes in your age, your children’s age, the birth of a grandchild, declines in a family member’s health, and, equally important, changes in state and […]

7 Things You Should Never Include in a Will

When you’re creating a Will, you likely know you need to include specific instructions for how you want your assets distributed and who you wish to serve as your executor. However, it’s just as important to understand what not to include in your Will. Estate planning can be complicated, and an improperly drafted Will could […]

7 Commonly Overlooked Elements to Consider in Estate Planning

No matter your age, health, or life circumstances, it’s never too early to think about estate planning. When drafting your estate plan, you’ll want to make sure you cover all your bases. Here are some commonly overlooked items to consider when creating yours. 1. Incapacity When drafting an estate plan, many people focus solely on […]

6 Estate Planning Resolutions for 2021

Whether they’re for self-improvement, career-oriented, or health-related, New Year’s resolutions can help set the tone for the next 365 days and beyond. That’s why we recommend adding estate planning resolutions to your list. It’s never too early to determine how your estate and other assets will be distributed to your family and loved ones, especially […]

Is a Simple Will Enough? Why You May Need Other Estate Planning Tools

A simple Will is a good start for your estate plans, but it may not be enough for your needs. When you use a Will to leave your assets to loved ones, you trigger the probate process, which can mean administrative headaches and delays before your named executor is able to deliver anything to them […]

What If I Want to Leave My Estate to Someone Other Than My Family?

A common misconception with estate planning is that you have to leave your estate to someone in your family when you pass away.  However, in the United States, with the exception of a spouse, you are free to leave your assets to anyone you wish, including a non-marital partner, friends, a charity, or even a […]

5 Estate Planning Tips for Single Parents

While estate planning is important for every parent, single parents face unique challenges when planning for their children’s future. As the primary caretaker for your children, you need to plan for several scenarios to ensure they have the proper safeguards in place. No matter how large or small your estate is, it’s important to protect […]

How to Choose Your Beneficiaries

When you’re young and have few (if any) assets, you may not put much thought into estate planning or choosing your beneficiaries. But no matter what age you are or how small or large your estate is, it’s important to designate beneficiaries for your various assets and accounts, just in case something were to happen […]

Getting Remarried? 5 Estate Planning Steps to Take

Many people who have experienced divorce choose to marry again in the future. While remarriage is a common occurrence, a divorced individual may not think to update their Will when they take a new spouse. If that person then passes away, their assets may be divided in a way that doesn’t necessarily reflect their current […]

Will the 2020 Presidential Election Impact Your Estate Plans?

With the 2020 Presidential election fast approaching, many Americans are wondering about the potential legislative impact of either outcome. One area people are watching closely is estate planning, which could be affected by changes to laws around estate taxes and capital gains. Here’s what you need to know about how your plans could be impacted, […]

How Does the SECURE Act Impact My Estate Plans?

For many Americans, a retirement savings account becomes one of their largest and most important financial assets. 401(k) accounts and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) often come up during the estate planning process, as most plan providers require you to name a beneficiary in the event of your death. If you have a retirement savings account […]

What is a Personal Property Memorandum?

In making a Will or Trust Plan, you’ve probably given some thought to your larger assets, such as your home or vehicle. However, as with many aspects of estate planning, the little details can make a big difference. Smaller assets, such as sentimental items or family heirlooms that hold emotional importance to you, should also […]

5 Estate Planning Considerations for Business Owners

Writing a Will and making estate plans can be overwhelming and difficult for the average person. If you own a business, you have a few additional factors to consider, as your estate planning strategy should document what’s going to happen to your business after you die. Why does estate planning matter for business owners? If […]

How to Identify Undue Influence in Estate Planning

When an individual creates their estate plan, it is assumed that the Will, trust, and other estate planning documents reflect the sincere wishes of their creator. However, there are some cases in which an outside party attempts to override a person’s judgment during the estate planning process. This is known as undue influence, and it’s […]

What Is Estate Tax Portability?

A couple can accumulate numerous assets over the course of their marriage, and when one spouse dies, the other will typically inherit those shared assets. Depending on the size of the estate, you may wish to take advantage of estate tax portability, which allows a spouse to assume the tax exemption of their deceased spouse […]

How to Avoid Probate Court

When a person dies, their estate is typically administered through the probate process. The decedent’s estate executor works with the local probate court to ensure all assets are distributed to their designated beneficiaries and debts are properly handled. However, probate can be an expensive, time-consuming procedure that can delay the transfer of assets to beneficiaries […]

What’s the Difference Between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust?

In estate planning, a trust is a legal entity that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold and manage an individual’s (grantor’s) assets. They ensure that assets are handled in accordance with the grantor’s wishes. Depending on the assets you have, trusts can be used instead of a Will to pass property to a […]

Estate Planning During COVID-19: 4 Areas to Address

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised a lot of valid fears about health and mortality. Simple errands like going to the grocery store and visiting a doctor’s office have created a potential risk for picking up and transmitting a virus that has killed nearly 90,000 Americans so far. As the coronavirus death toll increases across the […]

6 Questions to Ask Yourself as You Make Your First Estate Plan

An estate plan ensures your loved ones and assets are taken care of if you become incapacitated or pass away. While it’s not exactly an uplifting task, it’s important to plan ahead so your loved ones aren’t caught off-guard or left to sort through your affairs on their own. However, thinking about your final wishes, […]

Can I Disclaim My Inheritance?

In most cases, when a loved one leaves you something in their Will or Trust, it’s an honor. However, that doesn’t always mean you’d like to inherit the property or assets passed down to you. There are plenty of valid reasons to disclaim your inheritance, and with the proper legal documentation, you may refuse assets […]

How to Get Help with Estate Plans During COVID-19

On March 30, Governor Ralph Northam joined other state governors in signing a temporary stay-at-home order for the Commonwealth of Virginia, through June 10, to fight the spread of COVID-19. Under the order, Virginia residents are not permitted to leave their homes for non-essential purposes, which would include meeting in-person at an attorney’s office to […]

Your Estate Planning Checklist: 6 Steps to Get Started

Estate planning is an important process that allows you to dictate what happens to your assets in the event of your death or incapacity. While it may seem morbid to think about, especially if you’re young, it’s never too early to start creating an estate plan. Planning ahead will ensure a smooth probate (or probate avoidance) […]

DIY Estate Planning: Good or Bad Idea?

With the emergence of DIY estate planning software and online tools, you might think you have access to everything you need to easily and affordably prepare your own estate planning documents. While you can certainly do this, it may not be the best idea to skip the attorney’s office if you want to ensure that […]

How Do Estate Taxes Work?

Tax Day is rapidly approaching, and as you prepare to file your tax return this year, it’s a good idea to also review the current legislation on estate and gift taxes. While the Commonwealth of Virginia effectively repealed its state-level estate or inheritance tax in 2007, federal estate tax laws still apply to estates of […]

What Is a Special Needs Trust?

If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you may need to set up some special protections in your estate plan to ensure he or she will be properly cared for when you pass away, especially when your child reaches adulthood. The most common way to do this is by establishing a […]

Estate Planning in the Digital Age: What You Need to Know

Estate planning is usually focused on designating who will inherit your personal physical assets and belongings when you die. However, in the modern age, digital estate planning has become an important consideration for many individuals. If you currently have digital assets, including social media accounts, email accounts, online financial accounts, apps, websites and blogs, and […]

How to Identify and Prevent Estate Planning Fraud

When you make estate plans during your lifetime, your goal is to make the probate process as stress-free as possible for your surviving loved ones when you die. Usually, a valid will and other estate planning documents mitigate a lot of potential questions and controversy in probate court. However, estate planning fraud and probate fraud […]

Does Your Teenage Social Media Influencer Need an Estate Plan?

With the rise of social media influencers like the Kardashian sisters and popular YouTubers, some pre-teens and teenagers are acquiring fame — and money — at an early age. Take it from 8-year-old Ryan Kaji, who earned $22 million in revenue in 2018 from his YouTube toy reviews. If your child has begun accumulating their […]

Planning for Incapacity: What Documents Do I Need?

Creating a valid will or trust plan gives comfort and clarity to your loved ones when you pass away. Equally important, though, is having an incapacity plan. In the event that you become unable to make decisions for yourself due to an accident or health complications, an incapacity plan lets you appoint a capable adult […]

What Is a Revocable Living Trust and Do You Need One?

There are several different legal mechanisms that allow you to pass your estate on to your loved ones after you die. Many people opt to draft a Last Will and Testament. However, estate death taxes and other considerations can complicate things for families. While increases in exemptions from estate death taxes have worked in the […]

Virginia Inheritance Laws: What Is Your Family Entitled to After You Die?

If you die away without a will, this is known as “dying intestate.” The terms “intestate” and “testate” come from the longer name given to wills, which is a “Last Will and Testament.” So, if you pass away with a will, this is known as “dying testate.” Dying without a will has serious consequences and […]