Is Now the Right Time for Gift Planning?

There could be major changes in tax and estate laws as a result of the November election, which means it’s important to think about estate as well as wealth transfer planning.

The support of an experienced and dedicated estate planning lawyer can go a long way in helping you to answer your questions and ensure that you have considered all of the possible options. As we approach the end of the year, it’s a good time to reevaluate your gift giving plan.

Careful strategy can help you to reduce the tax burden for your family and maximize the use of existing exceptions. You could accelerate your estate plan right now through 2020 lifetime gifts. The federal estate tax exemption this year is $11.58 million and that is doubled for a married couple.

In the event that a change is made in the law next year, it could be made retroactive to January 1st, 2021 so it’s important to have an existing relationship with an estate planning lawyer to ensure that you are notified promptly of any major changes in estate tax laws and whether or not this will affect your current estate planning strategy.

It can initially seem overwhelming to consider all of these issues and ensure that your estate plan is flexible and adaptable enough to accomplish your individual goals but this is why having a relationship with an estate planning law firm that knows the landscape and knows your individual intentions can help you to make sure your estate plan stays up to date.

Need help with your Virginia Beach estate planning and gifting during your lifetime? We can help!

Managing Your Last Wishes If You Don’t Have Children

Being a single person who is approaching your older years with concerns about long term care is natural. It is very important to think about who will manage your last wishes if you do not have family members who are aware of your estate planning intentions and have documented these.

With only a few friends and no close relatives, it can be difficult to determine who will serve as the executor of your estate. An executor has to be someone you trust and there are a few different ways to narrow down this choice in your life to determine who you’ll use for this role.

With only a few friends and no close relatives, determine within the group that you do have, who you might be comfortable with passing on the responsibility of managing your plans when you’re gone. If you are not able to find someone in your personal network, it’s time to extend beyond this and consider possibilities such as using a professional or an institution for the job.

This removes some of the personal aspects that you might have hoped to have a person close to you who you trust to handle these issues, but many professionals and institutions have extensive experience in serving in this role.

You’ll want to set up a time to speak with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer about this process and what to expect. An attorney might be able to assist you by serving as an executor of your estate but you should explore all of your options when it comes to outsourcing this responsibility to someone outside of your personal network.


How Do I Obtain or Remove a Durable Power of Attorney?

While you can find durable power of attorney forms online and download them today, it is always recommended that you speak with an estate planning attorney about your needs so that the lawyer can recommend the documents and language most appropriate to your particular situation.

If you are interested in obtaining or removing a power of attorney, you can revoke an existing power of attorney at any time so long as you are mentally competent to do so. It is strongly recommended that you only remove a power of attorney document in writing and to notify any businesses or financial institutions that your attorney in fact or agent has already interacted with.

If you are interested in revoking a power of attorney that was created by another loved one, this is more difficult. You might be able to take legal action to have a person who is abusing their power as an attorney-in-fact to be removed but you only need a dedicated elder law or estate planning attorney.

For more information about creating a new power of attorney, it’s a good idea to sit down with a trusted estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach who can assist you with this entire process. There are many different factors to consider and it is important to contemplate your unique needs and individual goals as you move through this process.


Get an Attorney to Review Your POA Document

Has someone you know asked you to execute a power of attorney that names you as their agent? Never sign a power of attorney document without having your own estate planning lawyer view it first. There are many different mistakes that could be made in a power of attorney document and all of them can be avoided by consulting with a trusted estate planning lawyer in your area.

Making a mistake in your POA document could be very expensive and problematic, particularly if you unintentionally give authority over you or your assets to someone who can’t be trusted.

Many of the most common POA mistakes can be avoided but having a relationship with an estate planning attorney who can help spot these errors in your existing POA document or can advise you about the proper language to include in a new one. Some of the most common POA mistakes include:

  • Using a general POA when a limited power of attorney would have been more appropriate.
  • Naming a person that you can’t truly trust as your agent.
  • Giving an agent who cannot be trusted with too much power.
  • Executing a power of attorney to someone who cannot serve in that role, such as a treating physician.

For more advice on how to minimize the possibility of a poorly executed POA or a POA that exerts unintended authority on untrustworthy people, set aside a time to consult with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer about the documents. A VA Beach estate planning lawyer is here to guide you.


Does a Virginia College Student Really Need a Power of Attorney?

You’ve thought about all of the different details for your college bound child’s life but have you thought about what it would take to step in and make decisions on his or her behalf if they were unable to do so? This requires a power of attorney after your child has passed age 18. You are no longer legally able to make decisions or make inquiries on their behalf without a power of attorney document.

If your college age student puts together a power of attorney, however, and appoints you as the attorney in fact, you become eligible to manage legal and financial matters on behalf of your adult child. It might seem like a minor detail but this can be extremely important.

You can help with everyday tasks like renewing passport, managing car registration, updating a driver’s license or responding to a jury duty summons in the event that you have power of attorney over that individual. No matter where your child goes to college in Virginia,

Some of the most important factors to consider in determining what to think about when creating a power of attorney include illness or disability, business commitments, current or ongoing legal issues, location and distance and worst case scenario planning.

The assistance of an estate planning lawyer can go a long way in helping you to prepare a power of attorney document and ensuring that the person who has been appointed as the attorney in fact understands this role and is capable of stepping in to manage the important tasks outlined under the POA. Since a power of attorney can be broad or specific, it’s important to discuss these aspects with your college age student to help determine what is most appropriate for you in that situation.

Your Virginia Beach estate planner can assist you with this document creation.




I Recently Moved to Virginia. Is My Will Still Valid?

Among all of the changes that you’ll need to make when you move to a new state, voter registration, driver’s license and updating all of your bank account and credit card addresses, don’t forget your will.

There is a good chance that your current will is still valid in your new state but there might be differences in the new state’s laws that render portions of your existing will invalid. Furthermore, it’s just a good idea to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney in your new area to verify that other aspects of your estate plan are up to date as well.

Moving to a new address, for example, also means that you might need to update this information with your retirement or brokerage account or life insurance policy. This will make it that much easier for your beneficiaries to reach out to these important account managers in the event something happens to you.

Another reason to have your estate plan reviewed is if you move from a common law state to a community property state or vice versa. Since property laws can vary from one state to another, you want to verify that the current aspects of your estate plan are still accurate.

States might also have differing rules about when co-owned property is eligible to pass to the surviving owner and when it can pass under the will. You might also wish to speak with your new estate planning attorney about whether there’s any language you can add to your new will to make probate easier for your loved ones. Schedule a consultation today with a trusted estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach, VA.    


I’ve Been Offered a Funeral Trust. What Is It?

Many years ago in estate planning it was very common for banks and other financial institutions to present you with a form that could be used for ensuring that you have a method to pay for your final arrangements.

A funeral trust is simply that: a trust that has been created to pay for those final expenses. More often than not, these forms were created by a bank rather than an estate planning attorney and while an estate planning attorney might still create such a document for you today, they are far less common than they used to be.

Usually these are presented to you by funeral homes in a pre-planning process. Although funeral trusts are potential still available to you, it can be a far better idea to sit down with your estate planning lawyer and discuss the types of trusts available to you and how you can anticipate moving forward effectively.

The support of an experienced and dedicated estate planning attorney can go a long way in helping you to accomplish your individual goals and verify that the proper documentation, such as powers of attorney, living wills and beneficiary forms are all properly completed and updated in line with your unique needs.

Schedule a consultation today if you are concerned about leaving behind assets that will enable your loved ones to pay for your funeral expenses and other costs. At our Virginia Beach estate planning law office, we’ll work with you directly to give you confidence that you estate plan is up to speed with your plans.



Study Shows the Pandemic Has Influenced Retirement Plans

Retirement and estate planning are inextricably linked. This means that you can’t consider one without properly considering the other, and world events can certainly have an impact on your overall level of confidence in your estate planning.

A recent study by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies found that one out of five millennials say that their confidence in their own ability to comfortably retire in the future has declined because of the pandemic. That decline increases based on the survey respondent’s age.

A total of 32% of Baby Boomers feel like they have lost confidence in their ability to retire comfortably with one quarter of GenX expressing the same concept. Every generation certainly faces challenges with their retirement strategy, these three generations have a lot at stake.

Those three groups are most important for the purposes of this research project because they are the most prominent groups in the workplace today. Many in each generation already had plenty of work to do when it came to saving for retirement. Even though millennials have the longest period of time to build up their savings and the weather some storms in the stock market and beyond, they also have the most significant student debt that’s hanging over them.

Boomers were already hit hard by the great recession and the pandemic might only increase those challenges and GenX has already been noted in numerous studies as behind in their retirement savings and also crippled by credit card debt. This is a good opportunity to reevaluate your prospects and goals. Scheduling a consultation with an estate planning attorney in Virginia Beach could be the first step.



What You Need to Know About Unwanted RMDs?

The IRS recently released news that is important for those who have retirement savings. In late June, the IRS expanded the relief that was provided by Congress in the CARES Act, which allows for the return of unwanted required minimum distributions. In addition, this law also expanded coronavirus related distribution provision so that more US taxpayers would qualify to receive the benefits.

This means that it could be a good time to discuss your options with your financial advisor if you want to take advantage of this additional relief. Here are some of the most important pieces of data from the IRS rulings. Many savers had already taken part or all of their required minimum distributions earlier in 2020 before they knew about the waiver provided by the CARES Act.

Attempts to initially return unwanted required minimum distributions by rolling those funds back into IRAs or company plans and eliminating the tax bill brushed up against strict rules related to rollovers. However, the June 23rd IRS Notice 2020-51 released significant blanket relief for those people who had unwanted RMDs.

RMDs that had been taken up to that point in 2020 could be rolled back over to retirement accounts. Are you stuck on how to incorporate your retirement accounts and your financial planning into your estate planning? You can leverage the support of professionals to help you get there. An estate planning lawyer and a CPA, for example, can explain what this might look like for you.

For more information about this process and how it could potentially impact your financial and estate planning, schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer in VA today.


Is There Any Property That Should Be Left Out of a Will?

Not all property will be passed on as a result of what’s listed in your last will and testament. You’ll need to consider including and excluding the right assets by partnering with a trusted estate planning lawyer to help you.

There are several different kinds of property that you should expressly leave out of the last will because it must be designated or managed in another way. These assets don’t go through the formal Virginia probate process. This includes:

  • Transfer on death property such as vehicles, real estate, bonds and stocks, which will pass automatically to a named beneficiary if you have taken that step.
  • Annuity proceeds or life insurance policies, since the individual listed as your beneficiary will automatically receive these payments.
  • Proceeds from retirement plans, 401(k)s, IRAs and pensions, which will pass directly to the beneficiary named on forms.
  • Pay on death bank accounts.
  • Property held inside a living trust.
  • Property held with a right of survivorship.

The general answer for what goes into your will is everything outside of these expressly named assets. If you are curious about what to include in your overall estate planning inventory and what other documents besides a will you might need to support you, set aside time to speak with a trusted estate planning lawyer. Our Virginia Beach law office can help you keep everything organized when it comes to your estate plan and the assets inside.