Avoid the Common Pitfalls of Estate Planning

The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C Virginia

Avoid Common Pitfalls of Estate Planning
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

Surprisingly, even well-educated Virginians can err when it comes to planning their estates. No matter what one’s financial situation is, there are elements to a solid estate plan that need to be set in place that often get overlooked.

Here are some of the common pitfalls of estate planning:

1. No Will. Without a will, assets are distributed in accordance with state law. This can result in unintended allocations. Having a will gives you the opportunity to decide who gets what and when assets are distributed.

In addition, you should try to avoid the one-size-fits-all estate planning documents so often found via the Internet. They often fail to take into account the unique facts and circumstances of your life. What’s more, because Virginia law contains several nuanced requirements, these computer-generated documents might end up being invalid.

2. Life Insurance Proceeds Not Transferred. Life insurance proceeds can affect estate taxes. If an insured person owns their insurance proceeds at death, the proceeds become part of the estate and are, therefore, taxable. However, an insured person can transfer ownership of their life insurance proceeds before death through a trust, for example, thereby minimizing estate tax liability.

3. Not Using Gift Exclusions. Several available gift exclusions are provided in the Tax Code, where you can gift portions of your estate to others prior to your death without tax penalties. Giving gifts can be an effective and fulfilling way to decrease future estate tax liability.

4. Naming the Wrong Executor. The person you assign to handle your estate upon your death can be demanding. Be sure your executor is up to the job.

5. Not Planning Ahead. It is important to start planning as soon as possible, although it is never too late to create an estate plan. An estate plan provides the opportunity to plan your healthcare wishes and create financial strategies for a number of different situations.

6. Not Updating Your Estate Plan. If circumstances change in your life, you should revise your estate plan accordingly. Failing to do so could result in problems transferring your estate down the line.

At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., we are specialists in   estate planning procedures and can help you draft and solidify your plan for a secure and rewarding future. Please call (703) 669-6700 to schedule an appointment with either Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi, attorneys at law.

How Do You Pick the Right Divorce Lawyer?

The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C - Virginia

How Do You Pick the Right Divorce Lawyer?
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

Thinking about divorce? While it’s not a pleasant topic, it is an unfortunate reality for many couples. As divorce attorneys at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, we counsel parties through the sometimes intricate matters surrounding divorce, and have listened to their concerns and heeded their wishes concerning their interaction with the attorney as well as their case.

Common themes seem to recur, and their concerns will aid you in your search for the right divorce attorney for your case. I’ll share some of my tips here:

1. Interview your attorney. You want to find a comfortable synergy with your lawyer, since you will be working closely together and revealing intimate information. Make an appointment to discuss your case and see how you feel about working with that person. If it doesn’t feel right, look elsewhere.

2. Look for a straight shooter. Don’t choose an attorney who tells you want you want to hear. Select one who will tell you what you need to know in order to make your best decisions.

3. Don’t always assume litigation. A good divorce lawyer knows when to settle and when to litigate. It is more often a better solution to work out a settlement rather than go to court.

4. Make sure they are interested in you. Unfortunately, some lawyers look at divorce cases for the money they’ll make rather than taking a genuine interest in the client and your best interest. Find one who looks out for your bottom line, not their own.

5. Seek empathy. A good attorney understands that “winning” is also “losing.” Anyone going through divorce is most likely losing something: a marriage, a partner, custody or visitation, a lifestyle, and assets. It is a time of great unsettlement and often grief, and you should not feel as if you are ramrodded through a system. Seek an attorney whom you feel offers understanding of what you are going through and options for resolution.

6. Expect education. Hire an attorney who will educate you on the ramifications of your actions between you and your child, you and your ex-spouse, and the process of divorcing. You should feel comfortable asking questions and expect to receive answers and explanations.

7. Require personalization. Cookie-cutter approaches to custody schedules and visitations don’t work. Your attorney should look at your particular situation and devise a plan of action that works for you, your children and your ex-spouse.

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.

Defining Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Tichenor Law

Defining Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

With a projected divorce rate at around 50%, many couples include prenuptial agreements in their marriage discussions. Others may suggest a postnuptial agreement during a marriage. Here, we define these agreements and share their similarities and differences.

Prenuptial Agreements
A prenuptial or premarital agreement (prenup) is a written contract entered into prior to marriage and containing provisions for property division and spousal support in the event of divorce or marriage breakup. They can also include asset forfeiture based upon specific terms or actions, such as adultery. But they do not regulate issues relating to children. To create a prenuptial agreement, and ensure it is enforceable, both parties should be represented by attorneys.

A prenup as recognized in all 50 states and the District of Columbia must contain the following elements:
1. It is in writing
2. It is executed voluntarily
3. Full and fair disclosure is made at time of execution
4. The agreement cannot be unconscionable (immoral or unprincipled)
5. It must be executed by both parties, not their attorneys, before a notary public

Building provisions into prenuptial agreements to address support for a longer-lasting marriage or acknowledge sacrifice of a career or advancement opportunity to raise children can also mean greater protection in the event of divorce.

Postnuptial Agreements
A postnuptial agreement (postnup) is a written contract executed after a couple is married to settle affairs and assets in the event of a divorce or separation. They have risen in popularity since the 1970s.

There are essentially three types of postnuptial agreements:
1. Assignation of marital property when one spouse dies
2. Separation agreements
3. Agreements that attempt to affect rights in a future divorce

Sometimes a postnuptial agreement is used to save a troubled marriage, or to set new boundaries for conduct while ensuring that if misconduct (typically infidelity) occurs, moving forward with the separation and divorce is a smoother process. Postnuptial agreements can be amended at a later date if and as needed.

Rich or Poor Benefit
It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor; everyone’s situation is fluid and changing. Poor newlyweds may build an entrepreneurial business or be funded by family in their housing or careers, while wealthier couples may need to protect their accumulated wealth and ensure the marriage is founded on love and not money. Creating clear terms for how each spouse will treat these assets can make the difference in preserving the efforts to build the business or the family’s investment in you.

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 families with family law issues. Call us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

New Early-Detection Alzheimer’s Test May Enable Early Guardianship Decisions

Tichenor Law

Pre-Determine Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Estate Planning Needs
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, Virginia

When we talk about guardianship and conservatorship issues, a lot of questions are raised as to what conditions constitute having to necessitate a guardianship or conservatorship. One of these is Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease
A form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease that starts slowly and worsens over time. Its symptoms can include difficulty remembering short-term events, language problems, disorientation, mood swings, lack of self-care management or behavioral issues. Gradually, the person’s condition declines, leading to a withdrawal from family and society, and ultimately death.

Because the disease creates debilitating symptoms, family members may need to step in and take over with issues like daily care, medical treatments, and housing. Many times the responsibilities of guardianship and conservatorship are thrust upon an individual, leaving them with many questions and few answers.

New Tests May be Able to Detect Alzheimer’s Early
Although early detection wasn’t always possible in the past, modern medicine has developed a new test that could help predict the progression of Alzheimer’s in at-risk patients. Using saliva samples, researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada were able to detect specific bio-markers that indicated a link to possible cognitive degeneration. With refinement, this test could assist doctors worldwide to better predict a patient’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Pre-Determine Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Estate Planning Needs
Knowing the risks of Alzheimer’s development can help families make calm and rational decisions in advance concerning guardianship, conservatorship, and care for the afflicted family member. Decisions that should include irrevocable trusts, powers of attorney, medical directives, and other estate planning decisions.

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 families in drafting the documents that ensure the safekeeping of long-term care issues involved with Alzheimer’s patients. Don’t wait until the last minute to make these important decisions. Call us today to schedule a consultation. We can provide the answers you need.

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


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