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.

Get your free Advance Medical Directive!

Haven’t gotten around to creating your estate plan yet? I get it, there is no good time to meet with a lawyer. 🙂
I’m giving away a free Advance Medical Directive (with full instructions!) to get you started. This is the most important document in an estate plan and can save your loved ones a lot of grief.
Click on the link below request this document to your inbox. No strings attached.

Benefits of Creating an Estate Plan

COVID-19 has prompted many to contemplate important topics such as end-of-life decisions and estate planning. By making these choices and preparations in advance, families can ensure that they are carrying out the wishes of their loved ones and also prevent some of the difficulties that are often faced in these circumstances. The resources below touch on some basic questions regarding estate planning and the many benefits to creating a plan.  

Estate Planning Info & FAQs

This resource from the American Bar Association provides some background on the estate planning process and explains the documents that are typically included in an estate plan. 

6 Reasons Why You Need an Estate Plan

“While end-of-life planning may seem morbid, an estate plan can protect you and your assets not just after you die, but during your life as well.”

Leaving a legacy: Why everyone needs an estate plan

This resource expounds on some of the benefits of creating an estate plan and touches on some important issues to consider when beginning the estate planning process.

The expertise of an attorney can ensure that an estate plan is drafted and executed according to your wishes. State laws vary, and unexpected issues can sometimes arise if a “do it yourself” approach is taken in drafting a will or other key documents. Ultimately, an estate plan can serve as a roadmap for families confronting difficult end-of-life decisions or the division of assets. Advance preparation can help to ease mental and emotional burdens as uncertainties and guesswork are replaced with clear directives and plans.

What Does An Estate Planning Package Include?

An Estate Plan includes multiple documents that apply to various scenarios. A will describes your wishes for your property. A trust, which can be helpful if you have children or if you wish to avoid probate, is flexible and protective of your loved ones. An advanced health care directive specifies the type of care you wish to receive in case you are unable to articulate those decisions on your own. And a Power of Attorney (POA) let’s you choose someone to make financial decisions if needed.

I can walk you through each document and craft language that respects your wishes. I take my time with each client and charge a flat fee that includes all the questions you may have.

Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney to Create a Living Will is One of the Most Important Gifts You Can Give Your Loved Ones

When people think of estate planning, if they think of it, they think about wills and maybe trusts or where one’s property will go at one’s death. Making sure that your property is handled according to your wishes in a way that blesses your loved ones is very important.

However, arguably even more important is your living will. A living will, sometimes called a health care directive, allows you to make medical decisions for when a time comes that you cannot speak for yourself. You can define, with as much detail as you wish, what sort of life-saving efforts should be made on your behalf should the need arise. You can also name a representative who will have authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.

A Living Will is important for you, obviously, because it ensures your wishes are followed. However, a Living Will is even more important for your family and loved ones.

If such a time comes that decisions for you need to be made and you are unable to make them, your loved ones will find peace in knowing that your wishes are being carried out. Without a Living Will, families may disagree, causing tension that is escalated by the grief they are feeling and the enormity of decisions they are being forced to make.

A living will is your gift to them. It lets them know that you considered the situation already, and you made decisions for yourself so that they don’t have to.

Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney to draft a living will for you is an important step that could eventually bring a lot of peace to the ones you love.


Mathews Law was founded to serve clients in Northern Virginia. Please contact us for a free consultation.

I believe strongly that everyone should have access to a competent, affordable attorney. Navigating the legal process can be scary and confusing. I offer my services to assist anyone who needs them and work hard to keep my rates reasonable.