The Law Office of Angela N. Manz


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Estate Administrators and Trustees Are Responsible for Many Different Tasks

Before you choose who will step in and make decisions on your behalf, as well as handle your estate after you pass away, it’s important to clarify that the people you have selected are comfortable in serving in this role.       

The truth is that being a trustee or an estate administrator comes with many different tasks, which can be overwhelming for a person who didn’t realize everything they had to handle prior to closing out your estate. To settle an estate refers to the winding up of all the legal, personal and financial affairs of the person who passed away. Typically, a trust trustee or the executor of a will is the person who handles all of these different tasks when a person passes away. The easier aspects of settling an estate include notifying the social security administration and post office of the death, and notifying insurance agents, service providers, physicians, employers, banks and more. Other critical issues include handling trusts, funeral and burial arrangements, veteran’s information, and anything related to other death benefits.

Distribution of the decedent’s assets is a critical step involved in this process and one that cannot be overlooked. If the decedent owned assets in their individual name, those assets have to go through the probate court proceeding. If the decedent had a trust, then the trustee appointed in that role must distribute the assets to the beneficiaries listed according to the trust directions without having to go through a court proceeding.

All of these situations can be very complicated for a person who was not aware that they were going to step into this role. Having a conversation well in advance with a person you intend to take over the role of administrator or trustee is important so that there is no confusion or unnecessary delays if you were to suddenly pass away. Schedule a consultation today with an experienced estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach.



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When Is Your Living Trust Better Than a Will?

Do you only have a handful of documents set up for estate planning purposes? If so, you’re like most people who don’t realize that your will probably doesn’t go far enough to protect your interests. Having a living trust is a great way to incorporate additional planning opportunities into your big picture to ensure that you’ve considered the whole scope of everything. 

In some situations, a living trust is a better place to incorporate these estate planning concerns. Talking a lawyer begins this conversation and ensures that you’ve considered all the factors that belong in your ultimate trust. Once your lawyer has reviewed what you hope to accomplish, you’ll be in a better place to move forward with your entire estate plan.

A living should be a cornerstone of your estate planning toolkit if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • You have a surviving spouse
  • You are a senior with significant assets
  • You have a family to support even after you pass away

There is good chance that you might already have considered the basic benefits of having a will but a will is not enough if you need to accomplish these additional goals. A living trust or revocable trust many be a better tool instead. Living trusts were created specifically to fix the issues that are often tied to a traditional will.

The first thing that makes a revocable trust different from other types of trust is that it can be changed or dissolved base on the wishes of the person who created it. Rather than having your estate go through the process of probate, wherein the court has temporary possession of all of the assets inside, you can use a living trust to ensure a smooth and seamless transition of these assets.

You might be concerned that your final wishes surrounding property won’t be honored with a living trust. However, a trust is stricter than a will when it comes to ensuring that appropriate requirements are met. A trust can also handle more specific concerns that you wish to be carried out on a regular basis.

Another benefit of a living trust is you can establish your inheritor trustee as your power of attorney. To put together a living trust, you will want to first discuss this opportunity with the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer.



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Estate Planning and Business Succession Planning Work Together

Many people who have already started or are contemplating starting a business venture might overlook the benefits of business succession planning and estate planning. Business interests and estates must combine, especially from the beginning of establishing new a company.

This is largely because small details, including those like the name of the company can become a legal entity and one that has value associated with it. Only in scheduling a consultation with an experienced business succession planning lawyer will enable you to understand all of the different ways that your personal assets and your business interests combine.           

Failing to plan can set your loved ones up for a very difficult situation down the road, particularly if your business succession plan names family members who don’t wish to take over the management of your company. This challenge might emerge after it is too late for you to do something about it, particularly if you have already become incapacitated or have had to leave the business so suddenly that there is little or no opportunity to plan.

The only way to avoid these challenges is to schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer.   




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Financial/Estate Planning Should Always Be Unique for Every Single Family Member

When it comes to looking towards a family’s future, every couple has to realize that their situation is often changing and also extremely unique. What works for some other family that you heard about in a recent conversation with a friend or even another family member, might not be suited to your individual needs. 

This why you need to have a sit-down consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney. Families will often have different financial priorities as they go through the various stages of their lives. For example, saving up money for a down payment on a house is often the first step on a financial planning to do list for younger couples. However, over time, parents eventually put more of their focus to establishing financial milestones for saving for their children’s college education or towards looking for their own individual retirement.

Financial advisors can play a crucial role in this process and these individuals are often included at the same time as working with an estate planning attorney. With so many different issues to address and concerns presented by those who are in these similar situations, it is essential to have the support of an attorney who will work as hard as possible on your behalf to craft a plan that is flexible and can change with you as your life needs change over time, while also keeping you aligned with your individual goals.



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Mistakes Can Happen When You Focus Only on Money and Financial Planning

Money and financial planning obviously go hand in hand and estate planning must be added into the mix as well. However, being too focused on money can lead to your goals being missed. Social capital is equally important, which refers to a person’s ability to relate constructively to the world in which they live. People who have plenty of social capital are able to positively influence others.

Many of the people who have excellent social capital are those who are quieter souls, who are those who simply inspire those around them to live better lives. You can probably think of a couple of examples of people who have a great deal of social capital already because they engage in life and serve others.

These forms of social capital, in addition to the money that’s been set aside to influence your loved ones in the future, can help you to accomplish your goals and ensure that you are leaving a legacy behind for those who care about you. The good news is that mistakes in estate planning don’t have to be the norm. They can become a thing of the past.

Leaving behind a legacy can be complicated without the support of an experienced estate planning attorney.   


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Can’t Afford Long Term Care? Here Are Six Different Ways to Pay for It

You may be under the impression that you just can’t afford long term care and you are banking on your ability to remain healthy long into your older years. But, unfortunately, the average cost of long term care in 2015, for a 65-year-old, was $138,000.

Approximately half of seniors will need some type of long term care and one out of every seven seniors will need it for five years or longer. Many people are already struggling to save money for their retirement and may be concerned about long term care expenses.

There are several different things you can do to help to protect yourself and your assets. These include:

  •      Verifying whether or not you are eligible for a long term care insurance policy. Far too many people make a mistake of thinking that it’s outside of their reach.
  •      Add riders to your current life insurance policies.
  •      Take advantage of veteran benefits if you are eligible.
  •      Open a health savings account.
  •      Use personal savings.
  •      Schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney to talk through options to plan for Medicaid.

All of these tools can be very valuable and can give you a better perspective of the many different ways that you may be eligible to pay for long term care without additional stress and frustration for you and your loved ones.



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Be Prepared for Changes in Retirement

Retirement brings about many different questions, particularly what you are going to do with your time. It’s also still a good idea to think about what will happen going forward as you approach your individual relationship with your spouse and your family members.

Having conversations about financial matters or how you will divide up your time may initially seem difficult but it can also be a great way to broach these issues well in advance. This is especially important because a recent retirement study conducted by Fidelity Investments identified that one out of every three couples were not on the same page when each person was asked to describe their anticipated lifestyle in retirement.

Shared visions of retirement as well as what you hope to accomplish with your estate planning goals can ensure that everyone is on the same page and minimize the challenges typically linked to the transition into retirement.

Far too many conflicts and problems with family members emerge after a loved one has passed away or gone through a difficult change in their life, such as incapacity, because of lack of communication. Including the communication process now greatly reduces the challenges linked to deciding how to move forward and ensures that both you and your spouse have a well thought out plan for what will happen when you do reach retirement age.

Your estate planning lawyer can be an excellent resource.



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Study Shows There May Be a Gap in Terms of Retirement Savings and Gender

A new Merrill Lynch study indicates that women may have to work harder than men to save for retirement. This may not come as a surprise to many of the women who are now approaching increasing longevity numbers and who must find a way to make things work in their future, possibly without the support of a spouse.

Retirement issues are extremely important for anyone who is looking ahead to the future regardless of their age, but these issues obviously have a much more pronounced effect on those people who are nearing retirement.

Women must save for retirement earlier and work longer in order to maximize their pension and social security benefits, according to a new study completed by Merrill Lynch. They found that there are unique financial challenges that women continue to face, despite the fact that a great deal of progress has already been made. Although women now graduate in greater numbers than men from college, they also hold more than two thirds of all student debt.

The gender pay gap in the workforce makes it difficult for these women to be able to pay back their debt over time, presenting unique and different challenges to women as they approach retirement. With different financial considerations, it is important for women to be on top of their retirement planning now. Likewise, all singles and couples should consult with an estate planning attorney about how to protect their assets.

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The Importance of Storing Your Plans in An Accessible Place

When it comes to the prospect of estate planning, perhaps you’re put off by the sheer morbidity of the concept. It is still beneficial to schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney because otherwise you are handing over the power to make decisions about your estate to the government.

It is not sufficient to have all of the information associated with your estate plan, including your critical documents, in a locked box under your bed, or even in a safe deposit box. This is because you need to store it in a secure but an accessible location.

Many of the most important documents that need to be identified quickly after you have passed away, including your burial and funeral instructions, must be accessible to a loved one or a personal representative. He or she will not have the benefit of multiple days to go digging for these details, so you need to identify a possible online location to store your documents.

You can use this through financial advisors or through consumers, and you may wish to schedule a consultation directly with your estate planning attorney to figure out where to keep copies of these critical documents.

These documents may include those that are important over the course of your life, such as the power of attorney in addition to your will. Having these stored in a safe place that is protected from water or fire damage, and can be easily located in the event that something happens to you, is very important. Talk to your lawyer about what to do.


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Baby Boomers Should Not Let This Critical Issue Lapse in Their Estate Planning

Are you thinking about looking ahead to your own future and imagining the perfect retirement you’ve been spending most of your working life for?

This is certainly a worthwhile goal but it is one that should always be approached with caution if you haven’t thought about possibly incapacitating events. Estate planning goes far beyond just setting aside goals for your retirement in the future.

In fact, estate planning requires careful consideration of what would happen to you if you experienced a sudden incapacitating event. These incapacitating events could come about as a result of a physical or cognitive disability or even a vehicle accident.

These can shake up your life and present numerous challenges for your future and if you don’t get the support of an experienced estate planning attorney to help you craft necessary tools such as a power of attorney for your finances and your medical decisions, you could expose yourself and your family members to difficult choices down the road.

This can even lead to family infighting and further conflict, all of which could have been avoided with some careful planning and getting ready for your future. When you are concerned about the next steps to take, schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney who can walk you through every aspect of a comprehensive estate plan.


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