Estate Planning in Virginia
While nobody wants to think about death
or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important
steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Proper
estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, it can also
spare your loved ones the expense, delay and frustration associated with
managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled.
Providing for Incapacity
If you become mentally incapacitated,
you won't be able to manage your own financial affairs. Many are
under the mistaken impression that their spouse or adult children can automatically
take over for them in case they become incapacitated. The truth is
that in order for others to be able to manage your finances, they must
petition a court to declare you legally incompetent. This process
can be lengthy, costly and stressful. Even if the court appoints
the person you would have chosen, they may have to come back to the court
every year and show how they are spending and investing each and every
penny. If you want your family to be able to immediately take over
for you, you must designate a person or persons that you trust in proper
legal documents so that they will have the authority to withdraw money
from your accounts, pay bills, take distributions from your IRAs, sell
stocks, and refinance your home. A will does not take effect until
you die and a general power of attorney may be insufficient.
In addition to planning for the financial
aspect of your affairs during incapacity, you should establish a plan for
your medical care. The law allows you to appoint someone you trust
for example, a family member or close friend to make decisions on your
behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide
for yourself. You can do this by using a durable power of attorney
for health care where you designate the person to make such decisions.
In addition to a power of attorney for heath care, you should also have
a living will which informs others of your preferred medical treatments
such as the use of extraordinary measures should you become permanently
unconscious or terminally ill.
Dennis assists clients with Estate Planning, Probate & Estate Administration and Business Law matters primarily in the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia; and the counties of: Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, Caroline, Westmoreland, Louisa and Orange.