An individual’s estate is composed of everything that they own, from their personal belongings to their real estate, other possessions, and non-tangible assets. When a person dies, their estate is distributed among their family, friends, and others following the instructions in the will. In Virginia, when a will is absent, a county circuit court takes on probate duties and makes decisions on how the estate is divided.
Death is inevitable, so an individual is encouraged to plan the handling of his or her estate as early as possible. An estate lawyer helps to draft and implement documents such as wills and trusts, assists in the distribution of assets through the proper channels and protects the decedent’s assets from creditors and unreasonable taxation. If you need assistance in making sure the distribution of your estate proceeds exactly as you wish, our attorneys at Williams Stone, PC are happy to assist. We have convenient office locations in northern Virginia.
Advance directives allow the signee to determine their health care decisions, if the signee can no longer make those choices due to declining health or death, as well as choosing a trusted individual who will execute those decisions. A living will is a binding document that sets out general health care and life-support directives. Our lawyers can help you craft a valid living will, as well as a solid, durable power of attorney that grants the right person the ability to enforce the living will.
A deceased person with an estate leaves assets but also debts and taxes to pay. The estate is vulnerable to creditors and to federal and state taxes that can deplete more assets than the decedent would have preferred. Our asset protection services ensure the reasonable payment and filing of your last taxes while keeping your assets safe from creditors and other debts.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows an individual (the principal) to choose a trusted individual or an organization (the agent). The principal grants the agent the power to manage his or her affairs if he or she is unable to do so. Several types of power of attorney exist. For instance, a general power of attorney will give an agent control over all legal and financial matters, while a more specific power like special, financial, or medical will handle those affairs exclusively. Our lawyers provide several types of power of attorney services, such as general, special, financial, medical, and durable.
One of the most crucial parts of estate planning is selecting the right individuals to handle affairs after one’s death. Many aspects such as wills and trusts require executors and administrators to determine the handling of those documents. The probate process also requires a chosen administrator, known as the personal representative if a will was left behind, to assemble all the decedent’s assets, pay any remaining bills like funeral costs and taxes, and distribute what is left. We can work together with your chosen personal representative and administrators and help you understand the process better.
Guardianships & Conservatorships
A decedent will sometimes leave behind a minor, an elderly person, or an incapacitated person who was dependent on the decedent. The court will appoint a legal guardian or a conservator to take care of the minor or the elderly/incapacitated adult. If the ward has a substantial amount of property or money, the court will appoint a financial guardian to protect the ward’s assets. Our lawyers have experience in the protection of a ward’s assets, as well as knowledge of guardianship and conservatorship matters.
There will be occasions when someone contests or disputes a provision made to the will or the appointment of a personal representative. This action is known as probate ligation, as it occurs in response to the probate process handled by county circuit courts. Our attorneys can guide you through the complex process of probate litigation and the statutes of limitation associated with it and try to find a solution that will reconcile the demands of all parties involved.
Wills are the most common path a person takes to express their preferences on how their estate will be handled. A well-written, well-planned will that adheres to the estate laws of Virginia will distribute your property to the involved parties as clearly and efficiently as possible. Our attorneys can assist you in drafting and notarizing a will, as well as working with the executor who will enforce it, and resolving any disputes between executors and beneficiaries.
Trusts are set up to distribute the estate of the client to beneficiaries of their choosing. In this process, one appoints a trustee to protect the trust, and the beneficiaries receive the trust assets if they adhere to specific rules set up by the decadent. Trusts can either be revocable or irrevocable, depending on the client’s situation and desires. Our lawyers can help you determine which type of trust will suit you best, set up clear rules for the beneficiaries to follow, and mediate disagreements between beneficiaries and trustees.
We Can Help Make the Process Easier
Estate planning has many complexities that can interfere with your estate from being carried out as you wish. A single wrong move can place your estate in the hands of estranged family members, judges, doctors, or other strangers who know very little about your preferences. Our attorneys understand every nuance of estate planning and will guide you through each part.
If you or a loved one is deciding on how to distribute your estate, are having issues on what legal documents best meet your needs, or are worried about keeping your assets safe from creditors or taxation, our lawyers can help you at every turn.
Contact Williams Stone, PC
If you or a loved one has questions regarding estate planning in Virginia, our law firm can help. We are nearby with office locations in Stafford & Manassas. Contact us today.