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 While the Commonwealth of Virginia effectively repealed its state-level estate or inheritance tax in 2007, federal estate tax laws still apply to estates of […]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 […]

Estate Planning Questions You Never Thought to Ask

To say estate planning can cause stress is an understatement. When you sit down to plan for the unthinkable, you’ll find it can be emotional and downright confusing as you navigate the plethora of “what ifs.” Many people postpone their estate planning for as long as possible as they may feel they are being faced […]

How to Choose an Executor for Your Will

When you pass away, your executor is the one who will legally tie up any loose ends. They will typically handle of any or all of the following responsibilities: File court documents for the probate process Fulfill the distribution provisions contained in your will for any beneficiaries Pay estate’s final bills, debts, and taxes Notify […]

What Can I Cite as Grounds for Divorce?

Whenever a couple files for divorce, they’re required to cite “legal grounds,” or the reason they want to dissolve their marriage. These grounds can be fault-based, where one or both parties has done something wrong, or no-fault, where the parties fulfill the requirement to remain separate and apart from each other for a required period […]

Common Divorce Questions You’ll Want to Ask Your Attorney

Marriages can sometimes end amicably, making divorce a relatively simple and clean process. However, many divorces can be painful, expensive, and complex. Once you’ve agreed to divorce, you and your spouse will have to navigate the murky waters of settlement agreements, court documents, alimony/spousal support arrangements, and child custody/support, if you have minor children. To […]

Tips for Drafting Your Settlement Agreement

If you and your spouse have agreed to file for a no-fault divorce, you may be wondering where to begin, from a legal standpoint. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, filing for this type of divorce requires you to be legally separated from your spouse for a minimum of one full year. However, if you have […]

Do I Really Need a Divorce Lawyer?

Divorce can be one of the most stressful events in your life, from an emotional, financial, and legal standpoint. For this reason, if you need to file for divorce in Virginia, it’s recommended that you do so with the help of an experienced divorce lawyer – especially if you and your spouse have minor children […]

You’ve Been Named as Estate Executor – Now What?

If you’ve been named as executor of your loved one’s estate, you will serve a key role in the probate court process, which is how assets of a deceased individual’s assets that pass through a will reach any named beneficiaries therein. Probate is necessary to ensure, first, that a decedent’s final debts and expenses are […]

How Do I Become a Minor Child’s Legal Guardian?

Legal guardianship is a very common family law topic in Virginia. When an individual is appointed as a legal guardian, they are recognized as having the legal authority and responsibility to act in another person’s best interests, on that person’s behalf. While you may seek to become the legal guardian of an adult child or […]

How to Update Your Estate Plan After a Divorce

The divorce process is often a very long and painful one. Although you may have already moved on emotionally, some legal aspects of your life can’t move forward until your divorce is finalized by the court. When you do receive that long-awaited divorce decree, one of your first priorities should be updating your estate plans. […]

Gifting as an Estate Planning Tool: What You Need to Know

For many people, passing on money and property to their loved ones happens after they die. However, if you have a sizable estate, you may not want to wait until then to give your heirs their full inheritance. Under current federal law, individual estates valued above $10 million or $20 million per couple (indexed for […]

Estate Planning Tips for New Parents

Before you had your child, you only had to think about inheritance for your partner (and maybe your siblings or cousins). As self-sufficient adults, your heirs would be financially OK if you died tomorrow and left them whatever was in your estate. More importantly, they’d understand what to do with those assets and how to […]

Estate Planning Documents: What Do I Need?

You probably know you need to write a will to distribute your property and financial assets following your death. This is a good start, but for a comprehensive, complete estate plan, you’ll need a few more essential documents. Other estate planning tools, such as a living trust and a power of attorney (POA) agreement, work […]

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

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 […]

Legal Separation in Virginia: What Does It Mean?

The decision to end a marriage is emotionally painful and often very difficult for both spouses. But unlike an unmarried couple, you can’t simply move out and move on: You’ll need to go through the divorce process to officially dissolve your relationship in the eyes of the state. For many couples, the first step on […]

How Do I Choose a Legal Guardian for My Child?

It’s something no parent wants to think about, but eventually must ask themselves: Who would take care of your child if you passed away before they reach adulthood? For most people, the answer is their spouse or partner. However, if you’re a single parent – or, if you’re considering the unlikely event that both you […]

4 Common Estate Planning Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Estate planning can be a difficult and stressful process, and mistakes and oversights are common. After all, there’s a lot to consider when writing a will and naming beneficiaries, and it’s easy to miss a thing or two. Unfortunately, the cost of these errors often falls on your loved ones when certain aspects of your […]

Will Your Estate Plan Be Impacted by the New Tax Law?

When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was signed into law in December 2017, it brought numerous, significant changes for individuals and businesses alike. With Tax Day 2018 behind us, many taxpayers have already felt the impact of this sweeping tax reform. Overall, the changes promise to benefit the average American – some of […]

Divorce in the Military

Divorce laws vary from state to state, and are generally controlled by the statutes of the State where the parties last cohabitated as husband and wife. But, what if you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces? Do the same rules apply? When it comes to military divorces, special rules and requirements apply to […]

Liquidation of an Estate Following Death

Liquidation in the simplest terms refers to the conversion of hard assets to cash. Liquidation of an individual’s estate does not just occur upon a death. It can also occur when a parent chooses to liquidate assets in order to fund something like the purchase of a second home or a child’s college tuition. Liquidation […]

Dealing with a Family Member’s Arrest

You’ve received that phone call where the loved one on the other end of the line says, “I’ve been arrested.” Now what do you do? Remain Calm The first recommendation is to remain calm. Your loved one needs your strength now, so help them calm down as well. Ask them to be respectful with the […]

Protect Yourself During Times of Charitable Giving

December could be known as the “giving season” because that is when many people’s thoughts turn to gift giving and charitable donations. You may also see that charities use this time of year to solicit donations. This is where you need to be careful, and do your due diligence to discover whether this organization is […]

Protective Orders for Spouses or Children in Virginia

A protective, or restraining, order is a court-issued legal document designed to protect the petitioner from of violence, abuse and threats for a fixed period of time. It is designed to protect the safety and health of any person who is placed in fear or threat of bodily injury. 3 Types of Family Abuse Protective […]

Navigating the Costs of Nursing Home and Long-Term Care

When you’ve worked a lifetime to accumulate wealth, you don’t want to lose it all due to a disability, prolonged illness or cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease. Since approximately 69% of the population aged 65 and older will develop disabilities before they die, and 35% will eventually enter a nursing home, reports the Family […]

Legally Changing Your Name in Virginia

There are a number of reasons people change their name: marriage, divorce, adoption, escaping domestic violence, privacy/anonymity, difficulty in spelling, ethnicity, or for no other reason than they choose another. Wanting to change your name, and legally doing so, involves—no surprise—paperwork and fees. Getting Married or Divorced Virginia allows people to change their last name […]

Trust Funds for Minors and People with Challenges

Trust funds aren’t only reserved for the rich; they are excellent opportunities to create protection for minor children, disabled adult children, and other family members who may be incapacitated due to mental and physical challenges. Setting up a trust fund for someone you care about is one of the best ways to ensure that they […]

Where to Store Your Important Records

With all the news about natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, it makes one think about how to store and protect important records like your birth certificate, will or power of attorney designation. Keeping originals of these important records in your home may make them easy to reach, but may not be the best […]

Child Support & Enforcement in Virginia

From the perspective of a non-custodial parent paying child support, it often feels like a continuing injustice to be relegated to barely seeing his or her children full-time while carrying the financial burden of providing regular monthly support to the children until their age of majority. The child support order determines who will pay for […]

How to Handle a Surprise Divorce

You think things are fine with your marriage, and then your spouse suddenly says they want a divorce. Although you may have suspected that there were issues within your marriage, you are completely thrown by their announcement. Negotiating your way through a divorce is never easy, even when both sides agree to the split. Navigating […]

Child Emancipation in Virginia

Until a person is 18 years of age, the legal age of majority in Virginia, their parents or guardians have the right to both custody and control. They have legal responsibility to provide the child with shelter, food, clothing, medical care, supervision, and education, and are legally responsible if the child breaks the law. Once […]

Appraising Your Estate for Transfer, Divorce or Inheritance

When it comes time for disposal or transition of your marital property due to divorce or property inherited by you from a deceased relative, one of the first things you may need to determine is its appraised value, whether for re-sale or buy-out purposes. There are many items to consider within a marital or probate […]

What You Need to Know about Adoption in Virginia

If you are considering adopting a child, there are several routes you can take to expand your family. The first step is to decide what type of adoption works best for you. You can opt to adopt through a public or private agency that can facilitate the entire process, from locating birth parents to terminating […]

Setting Up a Memorial Fund

Setting up a memorial fund is one of the best and most rewarding ways to pay tribute to a loved one who has passed away, and to help keep their legacy alive. With a memorial fund, families can both preserve the memory of departed loves ones and make a true difference in their community. There […]

You May Be Liable For Your Minor Child’s Actions

Children get into trouble; it’s a given part of their growing-up process. However, when their actions cause damage to someone else’s person or property, many parents may not realize that they too could be liable for their child’s actions. The courts decided long ago that it was unfair for someone to bear the financial burden […]

Explore the Tax-Saving Strategy of Lifetime Giving

Giving money or assets to your loved ones during your lifetime rather than having them wait until after your death to collect, is defined as lifetime giving. It is an estate-planning strategy used to reduce estate taxes by spreading gifts throughout your lifetime using certain exemptions created by the federal gift tax laws in the […]

So You Just Won the Lottery…Now What?

You may have heard people say, “If you win the lottery, one of the first things you should do is contact a lawyer.” Well it’s true. But not just for the lottery. Any time you come into a windfall, whether through winnings like the lottery or an inheritance, it is a good idea to double […]

The Pros and Cons of Marriage Counseling

Once couples realize that something is wrong with their marriage, there are a number of choices they can make: they can read self-help books and try to fix it themselves, they can seek advice from friends and family, they can engage with a professional marriage counselor, or they can do nothing—each with varying results, with […]

Legally Establishing Paternity

A new baby always creates excitement within a family, with doting parents, grandparents, siblings and extended family members sharing the joy. In most cases, parentage is well known and accepted. However, in others, the identity of the father might be in question. Under Virginia law, only one man can possess paternity of a child at […]