Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyers
It’s a common misconception that estate planning is only for the wealthy. The truth is that every individual and every family has unique aspirations and concerns for the future that can be addressed through thoughtful estate planning. The attorneys at The Law Office of Angela N. Manz can help you see to it that both your property and your health care are properly managed during your lifetime while also ensuring that your assets are managed and distributed according to your wishes after you are gone. These are vital, worthy goals that everyone should aspire to, rich or not-so-rich. Contact our experienced Virginia Beach estate planning lawyers to talk about your needs and goals and how we can help.
Gain Complete Control Over Asset Distribution With Proper Estate Planning
Without a plan in place, the IRS and the Commonwealth of Virginia will determine how your assets are distributed after you pass away. Unfortunately, they are not interested in minimizing taxes or protecting your hard-earned assets, and your heirs may suffer some painful financial consequences. Having an estate plan hands you the reins of asset distribution, ensuring your possessions go exactly where you desire.
A well-designed plan can also help you accomplish a number of other very important goals, including:
- Continue to enjoy your current lifestyle
- Keep your affairs private
- Guide your loved ones through the complicated probate and administration process
- Ensure you will be well cared for if you become disabled or incapacitated
- Make sure your end-of-life wishes are carried out
- Protect your assets today and for generations to come
- Dramatically lower income, gift, estate and generation-skipping taxes
- Leave a lasting legacy by ensuring your goals, values and expectations are passed on to your children, grandchildren and succeeding generations
At The Law Office of Angela N. Manz, we take the time to listen closely, get to know you and your most pressing concerns, and create a plan that addresses them all.
Comprehensive Estate Planning Services in Virginia Beach
If you think your estate plan can be completed by downloading a do-it-yourself will kit, you’re selling yourself and your family short. What you end up with might not even be legally valid and enforceable in Virginia probate courts. Our experienced estate planning lawyers will create a comprehensive estate plan that meets all your needs so you can live your life with peace of mind knowing you have taken steps to secure your welfare and property for yourself and future generations.
Our office handles estates of all sizes and shapes, so no matter what your unique needs are, we will deliver the documents that meet those needs – no more and no less. Our lawyers are knowledgeable, skilled and experienced in providing a wide range of estate planning services, including all of the following:
- Wills: The foundational document that communicates your wishes regarding asset distribution, guardianship of your minor children, and who should administer your estate.
- Revocable Living Trusts: Offers flexibility in asset management during your lifetime and smooth distribution after your demise, without the need for probate.
- Powers of Attorney: Enables trusted individuals to act on your behalf, especially in financial matters, when you’re unable to do so.
- Health Care Directives: Outlines your medical care preferences and allows designated persons to make decisions when you can’t.
- HIPAA Authorizations: Ensures selected individuals can access your medical information, aiding in informed decision-making.
- Irrevocable Trusts: Specialized trusts such as Dynasty Trusts, Life Insurance Trusts, Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts, Qualified Personal Residence Trusts, Minors’ Trusts, Generation-Skipping Trusts and other types of trusts cater to different needs, from multi-generational asset transfers to tax-efficient strategies and life insurance benefits management.
- Family Limited Partnerships: Facilitates the smooth transfer of assets within families while offering potential tax advantages and avoiding probate.
- Gift Programs: Empowers you to reduce estate size and potential estate taxes through gifting, benefiting both you and the recipient.
- Retirement Plan Trusts: Protects and manages retirement assets, optimizing their benefits for beneficiaries.
- Tax Planning: Strategic approaches to minimize estate tax exposure and ensure maximum asset value preservation.
Virginia Estate Planning FAQs
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning in Virginia Beach
Estate planning covers a lot of ground (wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, probate), so it reasonably raises a lot of questions. Below are answers to some of the questions we hear most often as we help families in Virginia Beach with estate planning. We encourage you to bring your other questions to The Law Office of Angela N. Manz. We are here to explore and explain your options and make sure you are comfortable with our advice so that we can custom tailor a comprehensive estate plan that meets your needs. Start today by calling our experienced Virginia Beach estate planning lawyers for a consultation.
What are the requirements for a valid will?
Virginia law requires that the will be in writing and signed by the testator (the person making the will), or by some other person in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s direction, if the testator is physically incapable of signing. The testator must be of “sound mind” and a legal adult or emancipated minor. In addition, the signature of the testator or other person directed by the testator must be witnessed by two competent witnesses who are present at the time and who sign the will in the presence of the testator.
Do the witnesses who sign the will have to testify in probate court?
Probate comes from a Latin word meaning “to prove,” and part of the probate process involves submitting the will to the court and proving that it is the testator’s valid “last will and testament.” If the will includes a “self-proving affidavit” when it is executed, no additional proof will be required for the court to accept the will (assuming no one brings any challenges). A will that is not “self-proving” will require the witnesses to be called in if there are any questions as to whether the testator properly signed the will. The usual course of business is to have the will notarized and self-proved to avoid any problems like this.
What if no one was around to witness the will when it was made?
Virginia courts will accept a “holographic will” even if it isn’t witnessed. A holographic will is one that is written out entirely by the testator in his or her own handwriting and signed and dated by the testator. The court will still require the testimony of two disinterested witnesses (people who aren’t benefiting from the will) who can testify to the fact that the will is in the testator’s handwriting and signed by the testator.
How do you change or revoke a will?
You can change or revoke your will and make a new will at any time during your life, so long as you meet the required legal standard of mental competency. You can amend your existing will by creating a “codicil” with new or different provisions; a codicil must be signed and witnessed the same way as a will to be valid. You can also create a new will that contains your updated provisions, which is just as easy since documents are created electronically now, and it avoids confusion to have one will rather than a will with one or more codicils.
You can revoke a will by creating a new will. You can also revoke a will by physically destroying it. To avoid potential problems, you should work with your estate planning lawyer to make changes to your existing will, revoke your will, or create a new will. At The Law Office of Angela N. Manz, we know circumstances change and your feelings about your will may change too. We are here for you throughout your lifetime, and you can always count on us when you need us.
What are the requirements for a valid trust?
The person creating the trust, known in Virginia law as the settlor, must have the capacity to create a trust, or a trust can be created by the settlor’s agent under a power of attorney if the power of attorney expressly gives that power to the agent. The settlor (or agent) must indicate their intention to create a trust by their actions, such as transferring property to a trustee. Except for charitable trusts, “pet trusts” and certain other trusts, the trust must have a definite beneficiary to be valid. The beneficiary is someone expressly named in the trust to benefit from trust assets, and must be ascertainable now or in the future. The trust must contain duties for the trustee to perform.
A trust may be created by the settlor transferring property to a trustee during the settlor’s lifetime. The trustee holds legal title to the property for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiaries, who hold equitable title to the property. At some point, in accordance with the terms of the trust, the trustee may transfer legal title to the beneficiaries.
What is the “elective share” and how does it work?
Virginia has an elective share statute that allows a surviving spouse to take a percentage of the deceased spouse’s estate, regardless of whether the will provided for less or attempted to omit the spouse entirely. When a will exists, it’s up to the surviving spouse to decide whether to accept the inheritance under the will or instead take the “elective share” of the “augmented estate.” This is also sometimes called a “spousal share” or “forced share.” The right to claim an elective share can be waived through marital agreements.
My spouse and I want to leave our money to our kids. How can we protect that inheritance if one of us dies and the other remarries? Could that inheritance be at risk?
This is a common question, and there are many ways to answer it. As just one example, you could create a qualified terminable interest property trust, commonly called a Q-TIP trust. A Q-TIP trust allows you to make sure your spouse is provided for during their lifetime while also securing the inheritance you both want your children to have. We would be happy to listen to your concerns and discuss the options available to you.
How can I make sure my child with special needs is provided for?
One popular choice is to create a special needs trust, also known as a supplemental needs trust or supplemental care trust. The assets you put in this trust can be used to supplement the funds your child receives from Social Security, Medicaid, or other public benefit programs. The trustee overseeing the trust can make sure the funds are properly used. This way, you can be assured your child will do more than just subsist on government help but can actually thrive and live their best life with the assistance you have provided them.
Can I create a special needs trust for myself?
Yes. If you are an adult who is eligible for programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) but has too much income to qualify, you can create a “self-settled” special needs trust. The money you place in that trust is not counted against you when determining Medicaid eligibility. A special needs trust that another person establishes for you is known as a “third-party” trust.
How do I give my kids the ability to handle my finances on my behalf if I become incapacitated?
The means to do this is called a Power of Attorney. It is a legal document giving a person you designate the ability to access your bank accounts, pay your bills, manage your investments, and otherwise handle your financial affairs. You can create the Power of Attorney now, but draft it so it only goes into effect if you become incapacitated, and authority passes back to you if and when you regain capacity. At The Law Office of Angela N. Manz, we expertly draft powers of attorney as part of the comprehensive estate plan we create to meet all your needs.
Contact The Law Office of Angela N. Manz for Quality Estate Planning in Virginia Beach
To the uninitiated, the landscape of estate planning can seem vast and complex. But with the personalized, attentive services of The Law Office of Angela N. Manz, individuals and families can find peace of mind, knowing that their future, their assets, and their loved ones are in capable hands. Whether you’re starting from scratch or revisiting an existing plan, it’s never too late to safeguard your legacy. Call us today at 757-271-6275 or reach out online to schedule a consultation. Our Virginia Beach estate planning attorneys are here to help you plan for the future, protecting everything you have and everyone you love.