Archive for the ‘Trust’ Category

What happens to my social media if something happens to me?

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017
This year, the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act went into effect in Virginia.  This Act has important privacy concerns for users of social media, emails, and other digital assets.  The bill allows for fiduciaries to manage digital property.  Electronic communications, however, are restricted unless the user consents to such access prior to death or incapacity, or if ordered by a court.
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Who are fiduciaries?

Fiduciaries include agents under a power of attorney, trustees acting under a trust, and executors and administrators of a deceased individual’s estate.  Court appointed guardian and conservators are also fiduciaries.

What are digital assets?

Digital assets are electronic records in which an individual has a right or interest.  It does not include the device on which the records are stored.  Virtual currency, web domains, and computer files are examples of digital assets.

What are electronic communications?

Electronic communications are communications in whole or in part by wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photooptic system.  It includes text messages, e-mails, and social media messages.  It does not include wire or oral communications, tone-only pagers, communications of tracking devices, or transfer of funds by a financial institution. 

How can I consent or prohibit access?

Consent, or prohibition, of access may be given in the power of attorney, will, or trust naming the fiduciary. 
Some custodians have a terms-of-service or online tools that allow a user to designate a recipient or prohibit disclosure to named persons.  The use of such an online tool will override any contrary directions in the user’s power of attorney, trust, last will and testament, or other writing.  The written consent or prohibition in power of attorney, trust, last will and testament, or other writing, however, overrides a terms-of-service agreement that does not require the user to take affirmative action other than a generic assent to the terms of service. 
In other words, the online tool provided by a custodian of electronic communications or assets will be honored if the user takes an extra step to consent to or prohibit disclosure, or consents by some means other than the generic “I accept terms and conditions” button.  If the online tool does not have this affirmative action, then the estate planning tools can be used to consent or prohibit access. 

Plan for the unexpected

Monday, December 26th, 2016

We learned today that another celebrity died.  This one was very unexpected and it took everyone by surprise.  That can happen to us too!

So what can we do to plan for the unexpected?

We can make an appointment with our Estate Planning Attorney to find out what sort of plan we need.  Do we need a Will?  Should we have a Trust?  If we have a trust, are we sure that it is funded correctly?  Do we need to re-title our real estate and other assets so that the probate process can be minimized?  Do we want to make contributions to our favorite charity?  Do we have children or pets that we want to ensure are taken care of properly? (and no, the answers are not always the same for everyone)

These are all questions that should be asked and answered by a qualified Estate Planning attorney.

Remember that the Estate Plan is not for you, once you have passed away you are no longer worried about the details.  The Estate Plan is to help your family and loved ones carry on after you are gone.  This is the Plan of how you want your assets to be distributed after you are no longer able to handle these arrangements yourself.

If you have any questions or want more information about Estate Planning, please contact Beavers Law, P.C. at 757-234-4650 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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.

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 http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

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 http://www.BeaversLaw.com.