- Estate planning involves the navigation through your discussion about your estate, your objectives for your estate, and the legal documents, such as wills, trusts, and healthcare directives, that connect your estate to your plan.
- The benefits of estate planning include proper distribution of assets, protection of wealth, and limiting taxes.
- The factors that impact the cost of estate planning the most include your estate’s location, the complexity of your estate plan, and how many documents must be included.
- Hiring an attorney to handle all of your estate planning needs doesn’t have to be expensive. An attorney also provides critical guidance so you don’t miss a step.
Estate planning can be a complex process. Individuals are tasked with the responsibility of safeguarding their legacy and protecting their loved one’s future well-being. In the process, concerns often emerge regarding the identification of necessary documents and the costs of hiring an estate planning attorney.
These unanswered questions, such as the essential documents required, the assurance of wishes being respected, and the financial implications of legal assistance, add even more complexity to the task. Yet, the failure to address these concerns and get started can lead to legal and financial complications for one’s family, potentially misdirecting a carefully built legacy and creating burdens during a time meant for grieving and healing.
Contacting a Virginia Beach estate planning attorney is a step towards peace of mind when it comes to your assets. By entrusting one’s legacy to an experienced attorney who can tailor the estate planning process to specific needs, individuals can create a seamless transition of their estate and prevent undue hardship for beneficiaries.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is for everyone, at any age, as it outlines your assets, how they are owned, and what happens to them when you are gone. It is a way of choosing how your property and assets transfer and to whom, and it provides instructions for how to accomplish this according to your wishes.
Your estate planning may consist of several components, each one requiring specific actions and documentation. As such, you will need to carefully consider your options and make decisions that are best for you and your family. Also, estate planning is not always a one-time process. You may need to make updates or revisions, such as when you experience divorce or the death of a loved one.
What Are the Benefits of an Estate Plan in Virginia Beach?
When it comes to an estate plan in Virginia Beach, there are several benefits for having one in place for both you and your family. Having the appropriate estate planning documents in place does two important things: (1) you minimize the opportunity for discord among your family and (2) you ensure that your estate will be handled the way YOU want it to be handled and not the way someone who thinks they’re smarter (or more covetous) than you wants it to be handled.
Your Virginia Beach estate planning attorney will be able to help in a variety of ways, including the following.
Distribution of Assets
Your attorney can help you identify all your assets and help you plan for their eventual distribution to family members and any other named beneficiaries, including charities or organizations. They can also oversee that distribution if named as your executor or trustee.
Protect your Wealth
Estate planning can help protect your wealth now and long into the future. One way of accomplishing this is by placing your assets in a trust instead of leaving them under your own name. Your legal counsel will help you determine if a trust would be the most beneficial mechanism for your particular circumstances and can update it as needed.
Limit Taxes and Other Incurred Expenses
By creating an individualized estate plan, you can protect your wealth by minimizing transfer taxes, court costs, and other expenses that can occur and eat away at the total amount. Your attorney will create an approach that limits estate taxes and helps you avoid the time-consuming and sometimes costly probate process.
How Much Does an Estate Plan Cost in Virginia Beach?
While you may know you need an estate plan, you may be concerned about how much creating one will cost in Virginia Beach. The truth of the matter is that there is no one set cost that will benefit everyone. Costs for an estate plan will vary as clients have different needs, and much will depend on the level of assets and how complex the planning will be overall.
The process itself includes several steps to determine what will benefit you the most, and this process often includes the following.
- Initial Attorney Consultation: During this consultation, you and your attorney will sit down together and discuss the process, what your needs are at this time, and how to go about protecting your wealth and your beneficiaries’ inheritance.
- Drafting of Estate Planning Documents: Once assets and wishes are identified, the next step is the drafting of documents, which may include a will, trust, durable power of attorney, and healthcare directive.
- Previous Estate Plan Review, if applicable: For those already with an estate plan, your attorney will review the documentation, make any necessary recommendations for improvement, and also help with any needed updates.
- Document Finalization and Execution: Final documents will be created, and you will need to sign, often in front of witnesses and a notary.
Costs associated with these legal services will vary, depending on what your chosen law firm offers. For example, law firms often have flat fee services or charge per hour for legal advice and guidance. Other fees to consider include court fees, notary fees, and future probate and trust administration fees.
Before getting started, be sure to discuss fees with your attorney and understand what is involved. You can also contact our office to get a better idea of such fees for your situation.
Factors That Affect the Cost of Your Estate Plan
The time it takes to create and maintain an estate plan will differ for each individual, and a range of costs may be involved. Some of the factors that can affect the cost of your estate planning include the location of your estate, the complexity of your plan, and the type of documents to include.
Location of Your Estate
The more assets you have in different locations, such as real estate properties in another state or country, the more complex and time-consuming it will be to establish your plan. Your attorney will need to review the legal requirements of each location and create individual documentation that meets your specific needs.
Complexity of Your Plan
Time and costs associated with your estate plan will depend on how complex it needs to be for you and your family. You may have various asset types, wish to provide for minor children, establish guardianship or conservatorship, set up a special needs trust for a family member, and more. If you have children from more than one marriage, including stepchildren, you will want to outline how your assets will be distributed and spend time on legacy planning. With higher assets, specific measures for asset protection will also need reviewing.
Documents Included in Estate
Depending on how complex your plan is, several document types may need to be created for trusts, powers of attorney, and more. Once all assets are identified, your estate planning attorney will inform you of the different documents recommended.
All-in-all, understanding what legal services and fees are involved will be an essential part of the process, so discussing fee structure with your attorney will be paramount as you get started.
What Documents Should You Include in Your Estate Plan?
When you create an estate plan with our law firm, we will take the time to tailor it specifically to your needs. To get started, here are some of the more common types of documents that are usually included in an estate plan.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney (POA) is an essential document in your plan, assigning someone to act on your behalf should you be unable to do so for yourself. Such actions can involve taking on financial matters for you and also making legal decisions in your best interest.
A living will is a documented expression of how you wish your assets and personal belongings to be distributed upon your death. You will name an executor to see that your expressed wishes are met. By having a last will and testament, you avoid dying intestate and prevent the court from making decisions regarding your estate.
To protect assets, creating a living trust is a viable legal option. These assets will be transferred out of your own name and into the trust, making the trust the owner. You will still be able to manage or update a revocable trust during your lifetime and also name a trustee to take over when you can no longer do so or pass away. By creating a trust, your family can avoid the drawn-out probate process and receive assets sooner.
If you currently have younger children, guardianship designations are crucial. Choosing a guardian to care for them when you are gone, should you pass before they reach the age of 18, can bring protection and peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
Advance Medical Directives
Should you be incapacitated and unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself, an advance medical directive will designate someone to do this for you and also provide guidance on your choices for the type of medical help you receive, including long-term care.
Beneficiary designations provide you with a legal way to transfer your assets easily to others upon your death. Such designations will be needed for life insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and various other assets.
Separate Written List
Our General Assembly has created an informal and easy way to add to your will after it is signed, witnessed, and notarized, by adding a Separate Written List to your estate plan. Our estate planning attorneys will provide the outline of a Separate Written List for you and explain in detail how to use it.
Are Executor Fees Taxable in Virginia?
During the estate planning process, you will need to name an executor of your estate. This executor will need to administer your wishes, complete the required paperwork, and pay any necessary probate taxes and debts. Depending on the complexity of your asset distribution and administration, the process can take time and effort, and the executor can charge for that time and effort.
In Virginia, it is important to note that these executor fees are indeed taxable as income to the executor, so you will want to consider this when creating your asset plan so as to avoid surprises later.
Can You DIY an Estate Plan in Virginia Beach?
When considering the costs that may come with estate planning, you may be looking for options. While you can do it yourself (DIY) to save money, it is essential that you understand how important your planning will be for those you love. A dedicated Virginia estate planning attorney can help with a tailored plan that covers all your assets, considers tax planning measures, and helps avoid the probate process. By working with an attorney, you gain the advantage of having someone on your side who understands how to create and file your documents and also knows the many legal concepts involved.
We often are asked to review a client’s existing estate planning documents, often something they obtained from the internet. As a rule, estate planning conducted by an attorney who is not licensed in Virginia is unwise. Doing it yourself is unwise. We often share a quote from a long-dead attorney-turned judge about do-it-yourself estate planning:
“Drafting of Wills: So as to the language, form, and attestation of wills, an ignorance thereof might prove most serious, where choice or necessity resulted in a party’s drawing his own testament. Much litigation often results from the absence of certain formal expressions, or the existence of enigmatical sentences rendering the intent of the testator obscure.”
- Blackstone’s Commentaries On The Law, by Charles Blackstone, Esq., circa 1750
Translation: Do-it-yourself wills have been a bad idea for centuries.
Why Choose Virginia Beach Law Group for Your Estate Planning
When it comes to putting an estate plan in place, you need to know that your assets are protected and that they will be distributed to the ones you choose when you are gone. The attorneys with Virginia Beach Law Group will go above and beyond and always keep your best interests at the forefront. You can expect continual communication on any issues surrounding your estate planning, and your loved ones can count on us to represent them should the need arise. From drafting documents to serving as a power of attorney or executor, you can count on the legal professionals with our law firm.
Here are what a few of our law office clients have to say about our estate planning attorneys in their testimonials.
“Mr. Johnson is an amazing lawyer. He has a great personality, professional ethics, honesty, and integrity is extremely upfront and helpful with his advice, which steers clients for the high road. He showed that he had our best interest in mind, especially once we were in the courtroom. Mr. Johnson not only went above and beyond, but took the extra time to get the situation resolved. If anyone is looking for an amazing attorney who cares about your best interests, choose him!” – Taylor R.
“I had a power of attorney with (Attorney) Melissa Benvenuto for my house I was selling. Since I’m in the military I had to leave to go to Indiana before I could close so had to find someone to look over the house and make sure the closing process was being taken care of. While Melissa was the person doing that for me, I never stressed about anything, and she always made sure I was in the loop of things! Melissa is very professional, and I recommend you reach out to her.” – Patrick C.
Plan For the Future With Virginia Beach Law Group
Planning for the future and protecting those you love starts with understanding what you need and how to go about implementing an estate plan. The estate planning lawyers with Virginia Beach Law Group have the experience you need and will work tirelessly to tailor a plan that suits your particular wishes and needs. Get started today by calling our office at 757-486-4529 and scheduling a free consultation, or use our online contact form to get in touch. We proudly represent clients throughout the Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Portsmouth.
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