Archive for the ‘Estate Plan’ Category

Last Will and Testament

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Historically, a “Will” was used to distribute real estate after someone died and a “Testament” was used to dispose of personal property. Today those instructions are combined into a single document, called a “Last Will and Testament.”

To learn more about estate planning, or if you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

And check out our new Estate Planning Trivia page!

What will happen to my pet?

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

If you’re like a lot of people, you have a pet that is a real member of your family, just like a child.

We all make arrangements (or we should) for taking care of our children if something should happen to us, but what about our pets?  Our pets can’t go out and find food to eat, or make arrangements to go to the doctor when they are sick.  They need someone to take care of them.

Unfortunately, all too often our pets are taken to the local humane society when we are no longer around or able to take care of them.  The pet is grieving the loss of their family too and they are thrust into a strange environment that is probably not at all like the warm cozy home they were used to.  This can be a terribly sad experience.

And if we can find someone to take care of the pet, there is the cost associated with that care.  Who is going to pay for the food, vet bills, toys, etc.?

A Pet Trust is an estate planning tool that allows for the care of our pets.  Generally, the Pet Trust will designate who will be the person taking care of the pet physically, and can also outline some requirements for taking care of the pet such as making sure the animal goes to the vet at the proper interval, or that the pet be taken to the ‘dog park’ on a regular basis.  The costs for taking care of the pet are generally covered by allocating some asset into the care of the trustee that is to be used for the care of the animal.  If there are assets remaining after they are no longer needed by the pet, those assets are generally then distributed to other beneficiaries.

A pet trust allows the owner to ensure that this special part of their lives is taken care of when they are no longer able to care for that pet themselves.

If you would like to add a pet trust to your estate plan, or if you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Another New Year! Time to review your estate plan!

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Happy New Year!  I hope that everyone has a great and wonderful 2013.

And, to get things off to a good start, I’d like to suggest that you review your estate plan to make sure it is up to date and has taken into account all of life’s changes since you created the previous version.

New members to the family?  Some members no longer with us?  Perhaps a new pet that you want to make sure is taken care of if you are not able to care for him or her yourself?  Have you become involved in a new charitable organization that you think deserves a gift?  Perhaps the person you have named as the agent under your Power of Attorney is no longer capable or willing to do the job?  Perhaps someone in your family has received a college degree that would make them a better fit for the job of executor or agent?  Perhaps you have new acquisitions that need to be re-titled in the name of your trust?  Planning a job change this year?  Perhaps retirement?  Is your health status changing?

This is a good time to take a few minutes to just think about these ideas.  And if you think your estate plans needs to be updated, please give us a call.  We’d be glad to help!

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

The Difficult Talk About End of Life Issues

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

When my kids were little, I worried about ‘the talk’.  You know…the one about the ‘birds and the bees’.  Like most things in life, it wasn’t as bad as the worry beforehand!

Now is the time to have another type of difficult talk.  This is the talk about end of life issues.  What sort of medical treatment do you want in case you are found to have a terminal disease?  Who should be in control of your finances in case you develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia?  Who do you want to take care of your kids if both parents are hurt and not capable of taking care of them?

I wrote a post some time ago about whether or not you need a Power of Attorney.  This was followed by a post on who you should name as your Power of Attorney.  Yes, these posts are pretty old, but they also still make good sense, just like some good advice such as “don’t spend more than you make”.

Another difficult topic for ‘the talk’ is how to handle medical decisions if you are not able to make those decisions yourself.  Again, I had a previous post about making an Advance Directive that you can find here.

The holidays are a time when families get together and it might be a good time for ‘the talk’.

I know people don’t want to dwell on unpleasant things and the incapacity or death of a loved one is unpleasant.  But I have found through personal experience that it is so much easier to go through those difficult times when I knew what my loved one wanted to have happen.

Sometimes it might be easier to have this talk with an outsider.  As an estate planning attorney, I have this conversation with clients and families all the time.

No, this isn’t because I like being ghoulish.  I do this because this type of talk can give the gift of peace of mind to the entire family. Things are always easier to face when we have a plan.

If you already have these documents in place, this is a good time to review them to make sure your wishes are current.  Sometimes we change our minds and that’s ok.  And sometimes we have the documents in place but haven’t discussed them with the rest of the family.  Now might be a good time for that talk!

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Do you have a blended family?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

My parents were divorced and my dad remarried a woman who had children, so I come from a ‘blended’ family.  I am also divorced from my children’s father and I’m now married to a man who has children from his first marriage.   All to say that I know what it’s like to live in a ‘blended’ family.

I’ve heard that the schools now have projects to trace your family ‘bush’ instead of your family ‘tree’.  It’s a sign of the times.

But, the laws haven’t quite caught up with society.

A step-child, even if they have been in your household and you have acted as their parent for their entire lives, is not considered your child for inheritance purposes.  And problems can arise when a current spouse and children from a previous relationship all want to take ‘their rightful portion’ of an inheritance.

There are ways to take care of the ones you love by talking to an Estate Planning attorney and making sure that your estate is used the way you want.  This is important for everyone.

It is even more important if you have a blended family.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at