Glossary Terms & Definitions

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  • Term
  • A document which names an agent to serve as a person's medical advocate and agent during a time when he or she is not capable of consenting to such treatment, sometimes called informed consent.
  • A person you choose to receive your assets by naming them in a Will, Trust, or as a pay-on-death or transfer-on-death beneficiary on a financial account, retirement account, life insurance, home via a revocable transfer on death deed, or a car using the DMV transfer-on-death form.
  • Guardianship often deals with arrangements for the care of minor children in a parent’s absence; however, it can also apply to older children with special needs, or adults needing assistance for day-to-day life. If another person is dependent upon you for care, you must make appropriate legal plans to ensure their safety. A power of attorney may be an option, but it is often not available if the person needing a guardian does not have the capacity to sign a power of attorney or is vulnerable to being manipulated by other third parties into signing a new and very different power of attorney that revokes your rights to serve in that role.
  • The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. is experienced with all custody, visitation, and support issues surrounding children, including assisting parties seeking a court order defining their legal rights when having a child with someone to whom they are not married.
  • There are many issues that need to be addressed in a divorce situation that include mediation between the couple seeking separation and care and custody of minor children. We highly recommend mediation to avoid the costly process (emotionally and financially) of going to court; however, in cases where issues cannot be solved through negotiation, we will take all actions needed to protect our clients’ interests in the courtroom. Divorce issues can include legal separation, divorce, uncontested divorce, annulment, alimony (also called spousal support), custody and visitation, division of property and debt settlements, and paternity. In addition, following a divorce, it is always important to update your estate planning documents or draw up an estate plan—even if it’s your first estate plan.
  • In divorce cases where minor children are involved, there are many issues to be mediated or settled. They can include parental, grandparent and step-parent rights, child support, child custody and visitation, and post-divorce issues such as post-judgment enforcement (sometimes called contempt or show cause), and modifications to child support, custody and visitation agreements. It is important to know that the court looks at the child’s best interest when making its ruling, not the interest of either parent; therefore it is vital to work with an experienced child custody attorney who can assist you in creating a strong case that protects your relationship.
  • Elder Law is an ever-changing and highly diverse area of law that generally refers to the legal issues of Senior Citizens, including estate planning, plans for incapacity or mental incompetence, health care, other benefits, and final medical care. Many issues faced by Senior Citizens arise due to a lack of effective estate and probate planning, including a lack of a Durable Medical Power of Attorney or Living Will, and a lack of a Durable General Power of Attorney to ensure proper protection of their legal rights as well as their day-to-day financial management needs. Contact The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. for more information. For professional legal services or legal representation, contact The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. at 703-669-6700 or through our online contact form.
  • Estate Planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, during one’s lifetime, for the disposal of one’s estate following their death. Options include: wills, a living will, trusts, property ownership, beneficiary appointments, powers of appointment and powers of attorney. The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. can provide expert guidance as to which devices are most appropriate for your needs and help you prepare the correct procedures and documents that ensure protection and peaceful transfer of your estate. We will also advise you how to avoid probate in drafting your estate plan as well as the implications for taxation of your estate due to lifetime gifting or gifts made at your death.
  • A federal (and sometimes state, if a state has such taxes, and few do) which is levied on the gross value of an individual's assets owned by them or for which the IRS considers them to be controlled by the individual at the time of his or her death.
  • The need for guardianship or conservatorship planning is intended to assist with the care of young children, older adults, or an incapacitated family member of any age. Special Needs Trusts are designed to protect an adult (age 18+) requiring more support than usual in life, offering assistance with decision-making and various life skills, and creating a legal arrangement to ensure they have what they need for a safe and comfortable life. If you have child with special needs, such as Down Syndrome or a severe developmental or mental health issue, you may want to ensure that you can protect and provide for your child during their lifetime or after your death. The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C will assist you in creating an estate plan, which may include seeking appointment as a Guardian or Conservator for your adult child, or drawing up a Special Needs Trust, in order to ensure your child’s rights and needs are protected for his or her lifetime not only while you’re here but, also, after you’re gone.
  • A document that allows an individual to appoint someone to make health care decisions on their behalf if they are incapacitated.
  • Incapacity is a medical diagnosis in which a person is declared medically unable to manage his or her financial and/or medical affairs, and, if applicable, when a court declares them incapacitated.
  • Dying without a will or dying without a will that is legally enforceable, leading to that person's assets being distributed instead per the applicable state statute which defines who are that person's heirs-at-law after their death.
  • An instrument such as a Deed or Trust grants a person the right to use and benefit from another person's real estate during his or her lifetime, after which the property passes to what is known as the remainderman beneficiary-owner.
  • Living Trust (also known as an inter vivos trust) - A trust agreement that is prepared, signed, and funded by an individual with assets while he or she is still alive, in order to allow for continuing management of the assets held by the trust (and managed by a trustee named therein) after the death of the person as well as to avoid probate for all assets owned by the trust or on which the trust was designated as the pay-on-death or transfer-on-death beneficiary.
  • Document that specifies what end-of-life decisions an individual wishes to delegate to another person to make for them should they not have capacity to do so when they are diagnosed with and suffering from a terminal illness or in an irreversible coma.
  • Couples who want to secure their relationships through the drafting of legal documents should seek advice on prenuptial/premarital and postnuptial/postmarital agreements, civil unions, domestic partnerships and other issues surrounding marriage law. We’ll discuss your goals and offer our skilled legal services and advice.
  • Very often, a contested court battle is not the best solution to a divorce case. That’s why The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. encourages our clients to mediate domestic issues. Working out differences and signing agreements, even to settle partial issues while reserving others for court, serves to simplify the divorce process, deescalate tensions and mitigate the costs involved in a divorce proceeding. When agreements are reached mutually, we find they are much easier to accept, and the two parties can more quickly return to neutral positions, which benefit all, especially in co-parenting situations.
  • A legal document authorizing one person to act on another's behalf in legal and financial matters.
  • You are already dealing with the traumatic loss of a loved one, so we try to put instruments in place to lessen the legal issues following a death, including probate. Probate is the process by which a will is determined valid or invalid when a person dies, and the process a legal court takes to conclude a person’s legal and financial matters when there is no will in place. One way to avoid probate is to create a trust (sometimes called a “living trust”) to hold your assets and ensure clear directions as to how those assets will distributed upon your death. If you are forced into probate due to the lack of a valid will or trust plan, you will need an attorney to help you deal with the complex legal issues. These concerns are the reason we want to see you at our office, so we can provide honest and effective estate planning and probate guidance. Contact us to learn more.
  • A trust is a fiduciary arrangement where one or more people are assigned to hold property or assets for someone else. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. A Testamentary Trust is created through a will, and a Living Trust is created during your lifetime to transfer your property to another’s care so that upon your incapacitation or death, your estate is handled on your behalf. Trusts can be complicated, so we advise that you contact The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. to discuss your options.
  • There are several types of wills, and knowing how to make even a “Simple Will” work in a manner that ensures distribution consistent with your straightforward wishes is why using an attorney makes all the difference to having a successful plan. Yes, you can try to prepare a “Simple Will” yourself, but, unless you’re an attorney, you may not realize what you have omitted or what ensures the Will is valid not only in Virginia but all 50 States at your death. We can help you determine which is the correct type of will for your estate. Once you’ve created your detailed Will, it is important to keep it updated. For any significant life change or asset purchase, you should contact The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C to determine how this may impact your existing estate plan. The solution could be as simply as a beneficiary designation or as complex as moving from solely a Will to using a revocable living Trust plan, depending on the nature of the change experienced or anticipated.