Estate Planning: The Basics
When you need a skilled estate planning lawyer Abingdon VA residents trust, the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt is the firm to call. An estate is defined as everything you own, including your home, car, checking and savings accounts, investments, and personal belongings. No matter the value of these assets, they all make up your estate and you should have a plan for what is to happen to everything upon your death.
Many people view estate planning as simply naming who is to receive certain belongings, however, it is much more than that. By contacting an estate planning lawyer Abingdon VA locals rely on from the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we can walk you through the process to help ensure your needs and desires are clearly stated.
What Estate Planning Includes
When people think of estate planning, they normally think of making a list of who receives what and that’s the end of it, however, estate planning entails much more than that. By sitting down with an estate planning lawyer Abingdon VA families recommend, estate planning can reap the following benefits:
- Give instructions for your care if you were to become disabled;
- Name a guardian to your minor children;
- Allow for your business to be transferred;
- Provide for disabled loved ones;
- Include instructions to pass on your values instead of only your belongings;
- Minimize taxes and legal fees; and
- Be ongoing and constantly evolving.
Who Should Plan Their Estate?
There is a common misconception that only wealthy people need to go through the estate planning process to handle their assets and wealth. No matter the size of your estate, you need to have a plan for what will happen to all of your assets at the time of your death. In fact, estate planning often means the most to families with limited assets because it can help keep them from losing anything.
An estate planning lawyer in Abingdon VA knows that many people also believe you should not worry about estate planning until you are retired. However, the future is completely unknown and your plan should start as soon as you start acquiring assets. People frequently think they’re too young, they don’t have enough assets, or they believe they have plenty of time, but unfortunately, should something happen without a plan, their family would be left to make all the decisions for them. In dealing with the death of a family member, figuring out what to do with all of their belongings and assets is just another added stress they don’t need.
What if my circumstances change?
Estate planning is an important process for anyone looking to pass on their assets after they die. Many people create an estate plan and then never revise it with a trusted estate planning lawyer, in Abingdon VA This is not advisable because lives change. We grow older, we move, we make more money, we buy new things. If we don’t account for all these changes in our estate plan, our wishes for our heirs may not be met exactly as we desire. This is why it’s important to periodically review and, if necessary, update your estate plan with the support of an estate planning lawyer in Abingdon, VA.
What events should lead me to update my estate plan?
- Marriage – Once you get married, you certainly want to include your spouse in your distribution, should anything happen to you. Even if you don’t update your estate plan, spouses are entitled to a certain amount but not everything so if you want to make sure your spouse gets what you want them to get, you need to update your estate plan.
- Divorce – When you have a substantial life change such as divorce, it’s always a good idea to update your estate plan. When you got married, you may have named your spouse individually in your will. Now that you are divorced, you may not want to leave that person as much, or anything. The only way to be certain is to have an Abingdon, Virginia estate planning lawyer go over your estate plan and update it.
- Birth of a child – One of the happiest moments of any parent’s life is welcoming a child. But parents would be wise to update their estate plan. In the terrible circumstance where something happens to one or both parents, a proper estate plan can provide for a guardian for the child. If your estate plan isn’t updated to include this information, your child will be placed with your nearest relative, at the discretion of the state.
- Extreme illness – A major illness or accident could alter your life forever. This could wreak havoc on your estate plan by eating up assets or requiring care for your well being. You need to update your plan to account for these scenarios. An estate planning lawyer Abingdon, VA relies on has experience updating estate plans for every scenario.
- Financial situation change – The loss of a job, a raise, or lottery winnings are all examples of financial situation changes that require a review of your estate plan.
- Relocation – Your estate plan will be valid in every state so long as it was valid in the state where it was drafted. Nevertheless, moving is a great time to update your estate plan to account for your new house. Without a review and update by a trusted Abington, VA estate planning lawyer, your estate plan will still include your old house information for distribution.
How often should my estate plan be reviewed?
We all make plans, or we should, to visit our doctor each year to make sure we’re still healthy and catch any issues that may be on the horizon. This is a proactive approach to our health and never results in negative consequences.
The same approach should be taken for the health of your estate plan. Each year, you should review your estate plan with your Abington, VA estate planning lawyer. It’s possible you won’t need to make any changes. But many times we overlook what constitutes a change necessary of updating our estate plan. Seemingly little things can be worthy of making a change.
Did you take an exotic trip to Indonesia and came back with some artifacts you want to pass on? This would require an update to your estate plan. Without updating your estate plan, those artifacts would be distributed by your executor or personal representative who may not know your wishes.
The Consequences of Failing To Make Out a Will
As long as you are over the age of 18, it is never too early to make out a will. Unfortunately, if you put it off too long, eventually it may be too late. You could die suddenly or unexpectedly or have an accident that leaves you incapacitated and unable to make out a will. You never really know how much time you have left.
Unfortunately, over half of American adults do not have a will. It is understandable that you may not want to contemplate your own mortality, but that doesn’t make it any less inevitable. Losing a loved one is never easy, but not having a will can cause your surviving loved ones so much more difficulty when you die.
What Happens if You Die Without a Will?
The legal term for dying without a will is “intestacy.” If you die intestate, it becomes the responsibility of the court to dispose of the assets and property included in your estate. The laws of each state include provisions explaining how the court should handle your property. These provisions detail a process known as “intestate succession.”
The laws of intestate succession allow the court to distribute your assets according to a generic, predetermined hierarchy based on how people generally choose to bestow their possessions. This may seem arbitrary or unfair, but without a will, the court cannot take your wishes into consideration because they are unknowable.
What Are the Potential Negative Consequences?
How intestate succession will affect your estate depends a great deal upon where you live and your circumstances. Generally speaking, the law favors immediate family members and spouses as inheritors of your estate. This could cause difficulty if you have a domestic partner to whom you are not married. He or she does not have the same legal standing as a spouse would. As a result, your domestic partner may end up inheriting nothing if you die intestate.
Disposition of property is only one task that a will accomplishes. It also establishes a guardian/caretaker for your children and/or pets after you die. Intestacy may lead to fighting among family members and the court appointing guardians/caretakers that you deem inappropriate. Your pets may come out worse, as a result, than your kids do. Family members are likely to be willing to take on the responsibility of caring for your kids but may decide that they don’t want to be bothered with your pets and send them to a shelter.
Additionally, dying intestate can stir up a lot of fighting and hurt feelings among your surviving relatives. It is best to try to avoid this by making out a will as soon as possible. It doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated, and an estate planning lawyer may be able to help simplify it. Contact our office for a consultation.
Contact us today
The trusted team at the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt is able to review your estate plan and how your life has changed since your estate plan was drafted. Doing so will allow us to determine if you need to update your estate plan.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation. We know we can help and we look forward to working with you.
Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Abingdon VA Clients Depend On
No one likes to think that there will come a time when they won’t be able to make decisions for themselves. This is why many families are unprepared when an untimely death does occur. The lawyers at Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt have over 25 of years experience in estate planning. We will work hard to create a plan that will leave you and your family comfortable and protected. Your plan can be changed at any time to reflect any adjustments you would like.
Each Abingdon VA estate planning lawyer from our firm will give you guidance and answer any questions you may have to help make this process as easy as possible. Call an estate planning lawyer Abingdon VA provides at 276-623-0808 to begin planning for your future and provide yourself and your family with peace of mind.
“10/10 very helpful. Mr. Hurt is extremely professional and helped me in every aspect. I was wrongly accused and he helped me get the case completely dismissed. Would recommend Mr. Hurt to anyone needing an attorney.”