WHAT IS ESTATE PLANNING ANYWAY?

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the process of planning for the handling of your assets in case of disability or death. 

I don’t consider myself to be wealthy. Do I even have an estate?

Yes! Everyone has an estate. An estate is simply the combination of all of your assets and property. If you own anything at all, you have an estate!

What is involved in estate planning?

A major goal of a well-executed estate plan involves deciding who can make decisions for you if and when you are unable to make them for yourself. 

Estate planning includes executing a will, which defines who should inherit your estate and who has the authority to settle your estate when the time comes. 

It also names a guardian in case you have children. Most estate plans also include a power of attorney (a document where you designate someone else to make financial decisions on your behalf) and an advance medical directive (a document that 1) states your end of life instructions and 2) appoints someone to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated). An estate plan may also include a trust document (see the article on page 3) which allows for a smooth transition of management of your finances to a trusted individual should you become disabled or die.

I know I need a will, but why? What are the consequences of not having one?

If you don’t have a will when you die, Virginia’s default laws kick into effect, which means that Virginia, and not you, decides what happens to your assets. Further, by not executing a will, you are letting the court decide who will manage your affairs and who will be the guardian of any children you may have. This can be a lengthy and expensive process.

What if I am uncertain about my wishes or I change my mind?

Any estate plan can be updated at any time. Your will is always fully revocable, and the vast majority of trusts are revocable as well. You can also change beneficiaries or agents named to handle your affairs whenever you want. 

To set up a free consultation, book an appointment with Lisa at (866) 980-0838.

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