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.

Pets are Family Members Too

Pets are Family Members Too - NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

Pets are Family Members Too
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

When setting up a trust or will, many people overlook the fact that their pets are members of the family too. We know that their lifespans are generally not as long as humans, so we don’t think about what might happen to them should they outlive us.

As such, their long-term needs must be considered in the event that you are unable or unavailable to care for them due to disability or death — especially considering that some pets, such as parrots, can outlive their owners by many, many years.

In Virginia, you can include provisions in your Will or Medical Power of Attorney, or even create a separate Pet Trust document to provide for your pets. Items to be considered include daily caretaker roles, instructions for medications and vet care, special feeding instructions, final burial instructions (such as whether you want your pets at death to be cremated and placed near your grave), etc. Consider leaving a stipend to support your pet, directives that your regular vet continues to provide medical care for your pets, provisions for continued payment of premiums for pet insurance, and much more.

Keep in mind also that pets need immediate care in the short term should anything happen to you, so line up one or two friends or family members who can serve as temporary caregivers. Make sure they know how to access your home and have instructions on how to properly care for each of your pets along with the name of your veterinarian. Carry an “alert card” in your wallet providing their names and contact information.

Unfortunately, many pets end up in kill-shelters following the disability or death of a pet owner due to there being no plan in place for the pets, rather than the pet being placed with a friend, family member or even a no-kill animal foster or rescue facility.

Our pets are precious and beloved members of our family and are perhaps more vulnerable than any other family member to mistreatment or lack of proper care in the occurrence of their owners’ disability or death. Don’t let the unimaginable happen to your pet. Set up provisions for their care now, before disaster strikes.

To create legal directives for the ongoing care of your pet, contact the attorneys, Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi, of the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. We can teach you more about how we can create or update your estate plan in order to help you protect this very important member of your family.

Don’t Let Errors Derail Your Retirement Income Plan

Don’t Let Errors Derail Your Retirement Income Plan NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

Don’t Let Errors Derail Your Retirement Income Plan
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

When people talk about retirement income planning, they are most often referring to the assets they have in their IRA and 401(k) plans, and how they will withdraw that money, transfer it, or move it from place to place.

What they need to be careful of, however, is doing it properly. If done incorrectly, it could cost a person dearly in taxes. Here are some points to remember:

Remember Required Minimum Distributions

When taking IRA distributions, a minimum withdrawal is required once a person reaches an age that is six months past his or her 70th birthday. The penalty for not taking enough out is substantial: it can cost 50% on the under-distributed amount.

Defer Taking Inherited Money
When inheriting money, one might be tempted to take the money in cash, but that is not the best solution. It is better to spread out distribution of that money over a term of several years. This will ease the potential tax burden and create a stream of income.

Heed Deadlines when Transferring Money

When the lure of a higher interest rate or can’t-pass-up opportunity arises, people should be careful about how they transfer their assets. If they transfer funds themselves, by taking a distribution from one savings plan and rolling it into another, they must complete the transaction within 60 days of the distribution or risk a 20% mandatory withholding on the amount withdrawn, a penalty for early liquidation of the account. This penalty is collected by the retirement plan administrator and sent to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Additionally, funds can only be transferred once per year.

A better way to transfer money is to have it sent via direct transfer from one investment company to another. This method carries no withholding, no amount limits, and is a much-more hands-off procedure for a casual investor who is looking for a better return.

Contact Your Attorney

To avoid making costly mistakes with your retirement income, it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning issues, like Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. Contact us today.

–excerpted from MarketWatch, “Tax Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Retirement,” Andrea Coombes, Feb. 21, 2012.

The Social Security and Medicare 2016 Outlook

The Social Security and Medicare 2016 Outlook

The Social Security and Medicare 2016 Outlook
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

How are Social Security and Medicare’s financial outlook for 2016? According to the Trustees for Social Security and Medicare trust funds, they pulled a financial burden of 41% of federal program expenditures in 2015. Due to economic and demographic factors, there are fewer workers paying into these funds than previously, resulting in decreasing income from payroll taxes. This is also worsening as more and more baby boomers reach retirement age and since they are living longer, are experiencing higher health care costs.

Social Security

The combined trust fund reserves (OASDI) for Social Security will continue to increase through 2019, then annual program costs are projected to exceed total income. This will cause the U.S. Treasury to begin drawing from its reserves to help pay benefits. Without Congressional action, these reserves will be depleted in 2034. Once depleted, payroll tax revenue alone will pay approximately 79% of scheduled benefits in 2034, falling to 74% by 2090.

The Social Security Administration is projecting that beneficiaries will receive a small cost-of-living adjustment of 0.2% for 2017.

Since 2008, Medicare annual costs have exceeded tax income annually, although slight surpluses are predicted from 2016 to 2020. The HI Trust Fund has a projected depletion date of 2028, two years earlier than predicted in 2015, and once it is depleted, tax and premium income would still cover 87% of estimated program costs. It would decline to 79% by 2040 but gradually increase to 86% by 2090.

Due to the small cost-of-living adjustment, approximately 70% of Medicare beneficiaries may see only a small increase in the Part B 2017 premiums. A “hold-harmless” provision in the law limits the increase in Medicare Part B premium to the dollar increase in a person’s Social Security benefit. However, the remaining 30% may be subject to a much greater premium increase. This includes new enrollees, wealthier beneficiaries and those who choose not to have their premiums deducted from their Social Security benefit. They could see a rise in base premiums. Part B premiums could also increase for those subject to income-related premiums.

The reports urge Congress to address these challenges now, so the solutions may be implemented gradually. Proposals include:
• Raising the current Social Security payroll tax rate by 2.58 percentage points.
• Raising the ceiling on wages currently subject to Social Security payroll taxes
• Raising the retirement age beyond the currently scheduled age of 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later.
• Reducing future benefits, especially for the wealthier beneficiaries.
• Changing the benefit formula
• Recalculating the annual cost-of-living adjustment for benefits

A full report of the 2016 Social Security and Medicare Trustees reports can be found at www.ssa.gov and www.cms.gov.

Contact Your Attorney
At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., attorneys Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi specialize in estate planning. If you have questions about your benefits or any other issues surrounding estate planning, please contact us today.

Estate Planning and the Single Parent


Estate Planning and the Single Parent
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

You may be a single parent by many means: a spouse may have died, you divorced, you adopted a child, or had a child on your own. In any case, you are the primary caretaker of your child or children and need to consider estate plans in the event of your death.

Poor planning can cost your children a substantial portion of your children’s inheritance, and it is frustrating to see that happen when simple safeguards can easily be put into place. No matter how small or how large your estate is, it makes sense to protect it.

An experienced attorney, such as those at Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, can walk you through the processes of how to protect your children’s family home or other assets you’ve built up from probate and other taxes, as well as from predators who can steal from your unsuspecting children.

Create a Will or Trust
If you die without a will, this often results in your estate having to be subject to probate, along with the expenses associated with it and the paperwork , which can tie up your assets for an indeterminate amount of time and cost a substantial amount of money.

Sometimes parents set up a trust for their minor child or children. Through it, assets will be handled and controlled by a trustee of the trust and have primary responsibility for the management and distribution of assets. These funds will be used to provide the ongoing financial support for your minor child.

Trusts also protect children after they turn the legal age of 18. Even though they are now considered adults, they may not have the knowledge, skills or maturity to properly manage their inheritance. Your trust can designate yearly funds or delay inheritance of the entire estate to a later date.

Designate a Standby Guardian
Unfortunately, many people put off making a will because they don’t know who to designate as guardian for their child or children. You should designate a person or who is to have physical custody of your minor child, who is referred to as the guardian of the person.

This may or may not be the same person who is designated as the guardian of the estate, or manager of the financial resources. Sometimes it is wise to have different people managing money and children, as they have differing skills and qualifications. One may be better at parenting, while the other is a whiz at financial investing. If two people are designated, they will need to work together in the best interests of the child.

Some items to consider when designating a guardian include:
• Whether your child should receive an allowance.
• Whether the guardian should move into your home to care for your children, and if so, what is their legal responsibility for care of the home.
• Whether the guardian will be compensated.
• Religious concerns.
• Whether the person you want to be the guardian will accept the responsibility. Always ask before designating anyone.

Also to consider, if you have sole custody and pass away without guardianship security, the surviving parent may automatically be given custody, which may not be in the best interest of the child if the marriage dissolved due to abusive issues, a criminal record or homelessness.

As you can see, there are many issues that need to be discussed as you put your estate plan into place. That’s why you need the advice of an experience 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. Contact us today to set up your will, trust or guardianship plans.

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


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