Posts Tagged ‘Estate Plan’

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.

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.

Do I get the inheritance that was promised to me?

Friday, April 12th, 2013

A woman (let’s call her Sue) called my office this week and explained that she had been a caregiver for an elderly lady (lets call her Sadie) and Sadie had promised to give Sue her car when Sadie passed away.   Sadie did indeed pass away recently and Sue found out that Sadie had a Will but there was no mention of Sue in the Will at all.  Sue wanted to know if she could enforce the oral agreement that she would get the car.

Unfortunately for Sue, the short answer was ‘no’.

Sadie could have added the gift of the car to her Will at any time before her death.  Instead her Will had not been changed in a number of years and all of her estate was to be divided equally between her children.

Sue explained that the children never came to see Sadie while she was alive, and they never visited her in the hospital or nursing home.  Sue had worked for Sadie for a number of years and she was the only on-going companion and friend in the last few years of Sadie’s life.

Of course, this is only one side of the story and I have no way of knowing if it is true or not.  It doesn’t really matter because the estate will be distributed according to the terms of the Will and Sue will not receive the car (or anything else).

There is a moral to this story.  Everyone should review their estate planning documents, including the Will, at least every few years just to make sure that you don’t want to make any changes.

If Sadie had done this review, she could have easily left her car to Sue as she wanted.  As it stands now, Sadie’s friend Sue is left with nothing.

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.