Archive for the ‘Estate Planning’ Category

Estate Planning for the Blended Family

Friday, July 19th, 2013

It used to be that people would use a ‘family tree’ to describe their familial relationships.  Today, it is more like a ‘family bush’.

Children are born without the benefit of the parents being married, people are married-divorced-remarried and the traditional family that is the basis of most state’s default estate distribution statutes just doesn’t handle these situations appropriately.

Who should inherit when a person dies?  Is it the children of that person?  The current spouse?  What about the children of the spouse that the step-parent raised for most of their life?

What would happen to your estate if your spouse remarries and has other children after your death?  Or possibly your spouse gets remarried and then divorced?  Would the estate that you worked so hard to establish become the property of your spouse’s new ex?

These are confusing questions, but they are not unsolvable.  In order to handle these cases appropriately, you should have the benefit of an estate plan developed by a legal professional that knows how to make sure that your wishes are followed.

We are having a free, public, informational seminar on Saturday, August 17, 2013 in the meeting room of the Tabb Library located at 100 Long Green Blvd. in Yorktown (across from the YMCA).  The Seminar is scheduled from 10:30 to 11:30 and we will be discussing these issues and how they might be addressed.

Please join us for this informational seminar.

If you are unable to attend this particular seminar, check out our seminar page to see if there is another seminar or time that fits better with your schedule.

If you have questions about this or any other legal topic, please feel free to contact us at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at www.BeaversLaw.com.

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 http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

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 http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

When should I get a Power of Attorney?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I get this question fairly often.  People will ask if they should think about getting a Power of Attorney because they are getting ready to retire, or they have retired, or they are getting close to age 60, or 50….or whatever.

I always give the same answer….The best time to get a Power of Attorney is NOW!

We all think we are going to live forever, but we don’t.  We all think we will be healthy for our entire lives, but often we don’t.  Unfortunately, if you wait too long, you can’t get a Power of Attorney anymore.

In order to get a Power of Attorney, you need to be competent.  That means if you wait until you have dementia, it is too late.  That means if you are in a car accident and in a coma, it’s too late.  That means that if for any reason you are not able to take care of your own affairs, you are probably too late.

A Durable Power of Attorney will allow the person you designate as your agent to take care of your affairs.  That person can write checks to make sure your house payment, utility payments, car payments, credit card payments etc. are all paid on time.  There are also a number of other powers that the document can provide based on how it is drafted.

Some people are afraid to give someone else that authority while they can still take care of themselves, but if you wait until you are not able to take care of yourself, you are usually not legally competent to sign the Power of Attorney.

What can you do?

I often tell people to go ahead and draft the Power of Attorney and then keep it in a safe place until it is needed.  Just because the Power of Attorney is drafted does not mean that you need to hand the paper over to your agent.   You can put the Power of Attorney document in a safe place and let the agent know where it is after it is needed.

Also, remember that the Agent under the Power of Attorney must only do things which are in your best interests.  And if you are still competent, you can watch over their actions.  If you can’t trust the agent to do the right thing while you are there to watch over them, how can you trust the agent to do the right thing when you  are not able to watch over them?

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 http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

Getting Ready to Retire?

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

If you are getting ready to retire, you know that there are lots of things to consider.

Do you want (or need) to move?  Will you be staying in the same town?  Does a different state offer a better tax environment?  Will your finances allow you to do the things you had planned?  How will you invest your assets to make the most of your retirement funds?

As a lawyer, I can’t really help with a lot of these questions.  But there is one thing that most people don’t think about when they are planning to retire and that is something I CAN help you with.

Everyone who is thinking about retirement should think about executing a General Durable Power of Attorney.

The excuse of ‘I still have lots of time’ just isn’t valid anymore.  If you are getting ready to retire, you need to start thinking about what is going to be happening in this last phase of your life.

Someone asked me recently what was the one biggest mistake people make regarding elder law.  The answer was easy, that mistake is not doing the Power of Attorney early enough!

A Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone else to make decisions for you… to make sure your bills are paid….and to make sure that your financial life is going the way you want. A Power of Attorney can allow someone else to make the needed decision about where you will live if  you are not able to make that decision yourself, and to sign the entry forms for assisted living or a nursing home on your behalf.

A Power of Attorney can also eliminate the need for a court to order a guardian or conservator.  And, if there is a situation where the court really needs to make that decision, the Power of Attorney tells the court the name of the person that you wanted to hold that position.

The agent under the Power of Attorney has to make decisions and take actions that are in your best interest, and while you are able to keep an eye on things, there should not be a problem with what is being done.  If you don’t like the way your agent is taking care of your affairs, and you are still competent, you have the right to rescind the Power of Attorney.

The big problem is that the Power of Attorney must be established while you are still competent and capable of making that decision.

I have adult children come into my office frequently saying that they need a Power of Attorney because their Mom or Dad has dementia and is no longer able to care for themselves.  It is very sad when I need to tell them that it is too late.

If Mom or Dad is already suffering from dementia, it is very possible that they are not sufficiently competent to execute the Power of Attorney themselves.  So, instead of a relatively inexpensive process to draft and execute the Power of Attorney, the family is faced with the more expensive and longer process of filing a lawsuit to establish the guardian and/or conservator for the elderly parent.

The parent who is already confused and frustrated by their condition now needs to face a hearing before a judge who will tell them that they are not competent to take care of themselves.  This is often a very sad, but necessary step in the lives of the elderly.

It could be fixed with proper planning that includes the establishment of a General Durable Power of Attorney.

So, while you are making all of your other retirement plans, be sure to add an appointment with an Elder Law Attorney to review your situation and find out if you have the proper estate planning documents in place.

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 http://www.BeaversLaw.com.