Protect Your Legacy With A Gainesville Estate Planning Attorney
Estate Planning Attorney, Gainesville, Virginia
Not sure if you need to hire an estate planning attorney? You’ve come to the right place. We’ll help you decide if you need one and when to hire one.
You might have spent several sleepless nights wondering what will happen to your family if you’re no longer around to care for them. Or, you might be concerned that your beneficiaries won’t be left with enough funds after the government “takes their share.” Another nightmare is picturing your loved ones fighting over “things” and resenting each other because they can’t agree on what belongs to whom.
You don’t have to spend another sleepless night tossing and turning. By working with an estate planning attorney, you will be able to plan for every imaginable scenario and ensure that your wishes are carried out in the way that you intend.
There are several reasons why you might need to hire an estate planning attorney in Gainesville, VA. Here are the most compelling, in our opinion.
Reduce Estate Taxes
Taxes are an unavoidable part of life, and it can be frustrating to know that you could be heavily taxed even after your death. The tax burden passed to your beneficiaries can be unexpectedly high. Before they can also receive anything from your estate, those assets are subject to taxes as well.
When you work with estate planning attorney Mr. Johnson, he can reduce or eliminate taxes by setting up a trust. Many trusts can be established, depending on your situation and goals.
Most people know that they want to avoid probate, but the truth is that the majority of the US population hasn’t taken steps to prevent it.
Probate is when a deceased person’s property is distributed among heirs after paying off debt and creditors. If you don’t have a will, then the probate process is automatic. And, it is estimated that about 60% of Americans don’t have wills.
However, even with a will, your family might not be able to avoid probate. A judge must still give legal permission for the deceased person’s assets to be passed to the beneficiaries. Probate can be expensive, and it can drain the assets that were intended to provide financial security for loved ones.
There are several ways to avoid probate, including setting up trusts in advance, which removes the deceased as the named owner.
Though there are plenty of horror stories about probate, it doesn’t have to be a complicated or draining process. We can help you decide if your estate should be planned to avoid probate. We can also ensure the process goes smoothly if the estate does have to pass through probate.
Life is messy, and so is death, it turns out. Disputes among family members are likely to occur if you don’t have a thorough estate plan drafted.
Further, if you become mentally incapacitated, having your plans already outlined can prevent unnecessary and expensive court battles. All of your intentions are already legally actionable.
Protect Your Beneficiaries
There are three vulnerable groups of beneficiaries that need to be protected when you pass:
- Adult beneficiaries who are prone to poor decision-making
- Children or adults with special needs or a disability
In the event of your death, it is imperative that you have a plan that outlines how these individuals will be cared for. You will want to ensure they get the financial support they need without burdening them. For example, a beneficiary who receives government benefits could be cut off from receiving aid if your estate plan is not set up correctly.
At Johnson Law Firm, we are committed to helping your loved ones be in the best financial spot possible. This way, you don’t have to spend nights up worrying, wondering how they’ll be cared for when you’re gone.
Protect Your Assets
If you have substantial assets, you will want to ensure they’re protected. This is especially true if you are vulnerable to a lawsuit, have debt, or owe significant money to creditors. A well-formulated estate plan can be crafted that still passes all of your assets to your beneficiaries without having to fulfill many of the claims against your estate.
If you are looking for an attorney to help with your estate planning needs, contact Johnson Law Firm today to set up an appointment. Our firm’s experience is an asset to the Manassas community and can be a benefit to you and your family members. Get in touch today.
Estate Planning FAQs
As you plan your legacy, you are likely to have numerous questions about estate planning. We’ve met with hundreds of families over the years. We are honored to share our knowledge with the community.
The best way to get the answers you’re looking for is to come to our office for a free consultation. However, we also understand that you might only be looking for more information while you evaluate your next steps. We’re here to help by providing some answers to the questions we get most often.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is a process that involves planning how your property will be managed and distributed during your life and after your death. The goal is to minimize taxes, eliminate court costs, and get rid of any interference that can make executing your wishes a challenge.
Why Do I Need Estate Planning?
By having a plan in place, you have ultimate control over who benefits from your estate and by how much. Documents drafted by an experienced lawyer will also minimize or eliminate the taxes that are often incurred with the transfer of property.
Do I Need a Will? Can I Write My Own?
While you aren’t required by law to draft a will, it is a good idea to have one. Not only can you control how your assets are distributed upon your death, but you will also be able to exclude specific individuals as beneficiaries.
If you have children or care for adults with disabilities or special needs, then having a will ensures that they’ll be taken care of.
In the state of Virginia, you can create something called a holographic will, which you can handwrite yourself. However, if your estate is substantial or you want to ensure that all of your bases are covered, we encourage you to work with an attorney familiar with Virginia law.
What Happens If I Die without a Will?
Every state has different laws, but in Virginia, if you die without a will, the state drafts a will on your behalf in a process called “intestate succession.” In this situation, if you have a surviving spouse or business partner, they receive the assets that are co-owned, which may or may not be what you wish.
If your spouse is no longer alive, then your children would receive equal shares of your assets. For second and third marriages, your assets would be split accordingly between spouses and children.
Again, these consequences may be unintended and go against your wishes, which is why we recommend that everyone at least has a will or trust.
What Is a Living Will?
While a traditional “will and testament” outlines the directions intended by the deceased upon passing, a living will has instructions to be carried out while they’re still alive. These instructions could pertain to healthcare directives, such as if you are in a coma, terminally ill, or a vegetative state.
A power of attorney is also something that you can specify in a living will. You assign power of attorney to a person who acts as a proxy. They represent you legally, sign on your behalf, pay your bills, and manage your investments.
Assigning someone power of attorney should not be taken lightly. Make sure you trust this person unequivocally with your finances and well-being. It is also wise to appoint a back-up power of attorney if something happens to the first individual at a time when you are not equipped to find someone new.
Should I Get a Trust or a Will?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but there are some circumstances in which a trust might be a better choice for you than a will, such as:
– You want to avoid probate.
– One or more of your beneficiaries has a disability or special needs.
– One of more of your beneficiaries is in debt, is in a lawsuit or has massive credit card balances.
– You plan on leaving a portion of your assets to a minor.
– You would like your assets to increase in value over time.
A trust does involve additional administrative work, so there’s a point at which the size of an estate would warrant a trust over a will. In a consultation, we will learn more about your financial position and goals, and then advise you on the right course of action.
Do you have more questions about estate planning? Get in touch with Johnson Law Firm for a complimentary consultation.