Estate Planning in Fredericksburg, Virginia - Page 2
If leave your estate to your loved ones
using a will, everything you own will pass through probate. The process
is expensive, time consuming and open to the public. The probate
court is in control of the process until the estate has been settled and
distributed. If you are married and have children, you want to make
certain that your surviving family has immediate access to cash to pay
for living expenses while your estate is being settled. It is not
unusual for the probate courts to freeze assets for weeks or even months
while trying to determine the proper disposition of the estate. Your surviving
spouse may be forced to apply to the probate court for needed cash to pay
current living expenses. You can imagine how stressful this process can
be. With proper planning, your assets can pass on to your loved
ones without undergoing probate, in a manner that is quick, inexpensive
Providing for Minor Children
It is important that your estate plan
address issues regarding the upbringing of your children. If your
children are young, you may want to consider implementing a plan that will
allow your surviving spouse to devote more attention to your children,
without the burden of work obligations. You may also want to provide
for professional advice and resources for your spouse if you believe they
lack the experience or ability to handle financial and legal matters.
You should also discuss with your attorney the possibility of both you
and your spouse dying simultaneously, or within a short duration of time.
A contingency plan should provide for persons you'd like to manage your
assets as well as the guardian you'd like to nominate for the upbringing
of your children. The person, or trustee in charge of the finances
need not be the same person as the guardian. In fact, in many situations,
you may want to purposely designate different persons to maintain a system
of checks and balances. Otherwise, the decision as to who will manage
your finances and raise your children will be left to a court of law.
Even if you are lucky enough to have the person or persons you would have
wanted selected by the court, they may have undue burdens and restrictions
placed on them by the court, such as having to provide annual accountings.
Other issues to consider are whether you'd
like your beneficiaries to receive your assets directly, or whether you'd
prefer to have the assets placed in trust and distributed based a number
of factors which you designate, such as age, need and even incentives based
on behavior and education. All too often, children receive substantial
assets before they are mature enough to handle them properly, with devastating
You should give careful thought to your
choice of guardian, ensuring that he or she shares the values you want
instilled in your children. You will also want to give consideration to
the age and financial condition of a potential guardian. Some guardians
may lack child rearing skills you feel are necessary.
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.