Why You Need an Estate Plan

  • To decide who will receive your assets at your death, rather than having the state default rules determine your heirs.
  • To determine who will manage the administration of your estate rather than relying on the state default rules to choose your Executor.
  • To choose the person who will pay your bills and manage your finances if you should become incapacitated.
  • To appoint a family member or friend who will make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  • To appoint someone to carry out your wishes if you should become terminally ill and to indicate whether to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging procedures.
  • If you wish to provide for a minor beneficiary, you can establish a trust and choose the person who will distribute the assets to the beneficiary and the age at which the beneficiary can receive the assets outright.
  • If you wish to provide for an elderly parent but want someone other than the parent to manage the assets, you can establish a trust for the benefit of the elderly parent.
  • If you want to provide for a beneficiary who is disabled, you can establish a “Special Needs Trust” that will not disqualify the beneficiary from receiving federal and state government benefits.
  • If you wish to leave your assets to a domestic partner and want your domestic partner to act on your behalf in managing your financial assets and making health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated, you must have an estate plan to ensure that your assets will pass to your partner at your death and to legally authorize your partner to serve as your agent in your financial power of attorney and medical power of attorney.
  • If you wish to provide for a pet you can insert a “Statement of Care” provision in your Trust or Will to name caretaker(s) for your pets after your death. Virginia now permits an animal trust to become established for the benefit of your pets under which you can name an individual to serve as the Trustee who will administer funds for your pets’ care in a legally binding manner.

Anyone who is eighteen (18) years of age, or older, needs an estate plan in place to avoid unnecessary costs in the administration of the estate at death and to ensure the management of the person’s health care needs and financial assets during incapacity.

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