Even if you don’t have a large estate, you may disagree with how Virginia’s laws will handle distribution of the assets. You may wish to leave items of sentimental value to certain individuals, including friends and distant relatives, over your nearest blood relatives. For those with mixed families, it’s essential to designate how you want your assets distributed to avoid any unintended results.
A power of attorney loses its authority when the individual dies. Without a designated agent named as executor or personal representative, the court will need to appoint an administrator to pay your final expenses and manage distribution of the estate.
You may not want your spouse to inherit your entire estate. Consider the possibility that your spouse may find a new partner, or have extended family, that you may not want to receive the benefit of your estate. A proper plan allows you to preserve a benefit for both your spouse as well as for children, grandchildren, or others.
A revocable living trust does not shield all assets from business risks, creditors, or lawsuits. Since the trust can be amended or revoked at any time, any assets held in trust are open to claims from third parties. In certain situations, an irrevocable trust can provide protection for certain assets, but several criteria must be met.
For those with an estate valued under $50,000, the probate process is simple and cost-effective. Proper use of beneficiary designations can reduce or eliminate the need for any assets to pass through probate.
The only way to know if what estate plan is best for you is to have it evaluated by a professional. Melone Hatley offers free estate planning consultations and flat fees for most estate planning packages. Call to schedule your consultation at the Virginia Beach office at 757-296-0580 or the Northern Virginia office at 703-995-9900.
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