Wills/Trusts

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Will and Trusts Attorney Serving Fredericksburg, Virginia

Thinking about your own passing can be stressful and unpleasant. When you’ve worked hard all your life and created a legacy you’re proud of, it’s natural to worry about what happens to that legacy when you’re no longer here to attend to it.

Having an estate plan can give you peace of mind, knowing that you’ve provided for and protected your family’s interests. However, developing an estate plan tailored to your and your family’s circumstances requires skilled legal representation. Let the estate planning firm of Buczek Carpenter help. We have the experience, skills, and resources to help you protect what matters most. Contact us for an initial case evaluation to learn how we can guide you through the estate planning process.

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Estate Planning Tools We Can Help You Set Up

At Buczek Carpenter, our estate planning attorneys can help you develop a tailored estate plan and legal strategy that leverages tools such as:

Wills

Your will is the foundation of your estate plan. A will allows you to designate someone to administer your estate after your death, direct the disposition of estate assets, and nominate a person to serve as guardian for minor children. No matter what other estate planning tools you may use, your estate plan should include a will so you can appoint an executor for your estate, protect your minor children’s well-being after your passing, and ensure the distribution of any assets not taken care of by other aspects of your estate plan.

Trusts

A trust is a legal relationship in which a trust, managed by a trustee, holds property or money for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. Trusts offer many critical benefits in estate planning, including enabling individuals to pass on assets after death without the time and expense of probate, minimizing your tax liabilities, and protecting your assets from creditors or waste.

Individuals and families have several types of trusts to choose from in estate planning, such as:

  • Living Trusts – A person can use a revocable living trust to manage and enjoy their assets during their lifetime and direct the disposition of those assets after death by naming beneficiaries who will inherit from the trust. Living trusts allow families to avoid the time and cost of probate.

  • Irrevocable Trusts – Many families use irrevocable trusts as a tax planning tool to protect assets from creditors and minimize estate tax liabilities.

  • Medicaid Trusts – Individuals and couples can set up Medicaid trusts to gain eligibility for Medicaid or other means-tested government benefits that help pay for costly long-term or end-of-life care. Medicaid trusts bring a person’s income and assets below the eligibility threshold to qualify for government benefits while managing and distributing their assets during their life and after death.

  • Special Needs Trusts – Families with a loved one with severe permanent disabilities or special needs may set up a special needs trust to manage their loved one’s assets (such as a personal injury award or an inheritance) while maintaining their eligibility for means-tested government benefits.

Medical Directives

In a medical directive, you can appoint a trusted family member or friend to make healthcare and end-of-life decisions if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate those decisions for yourself. Medical directives may also include documents that can instruct the healthcare proxy on the decisions you would like made for your medical or end-of-life care. Medical directives can eliminate any confusion or disputes over who should make medical decisions for you if you’re incapacitated or what kind of healthcare or end-of-life decisions you want made on your behalf.

Powers of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to make financial, legal, or personal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions yourself. Durable powers of attorney enable you to select people you trust to manage your affairs if you cannot, avoiding potential expenses or conflicts over setting up guardianships or conservatorships.

Living Wills

A living will allows you to communicate your preferences concerning medical treatment, end-of-life decisions, and funeral and burial arrangements to healthcare proxies, estate administrators, and family members.

Beneficiary Designations

Many types of financial accounts allow you to make a beneficiary designation or a pay/transfer-on-death designation, including bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. A beneficiary designation allows you to select one or more people to receive control of the account or the assets it holds without needing to go through the probate process if those account assets become part of your estate after death.

Retitled Assets

Certain types of assets, such as real estate, reflect ownership through titles. In many cases, you can direct the disposition of those assets without needing to go through probate by retitling those assets in a joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety so that your co-owner(s) immediately take ownership of the property after your death.

How Can Our Wills Lawyers Help You with the Estate Planning Process?

Having so many estate planning options can seem confusing and overwhelming. Let the trusts attorneys at Buczek Carpenter guide you through the estate planning process by:

  • Taking the time to sit down with you to get to know you and your family, understand your needs and goals, and walk you through your legal options
  • Reviewing your financial and familial situation to identify estate planning tools that can help you fulfill your objectives
  • Drafting estate planning documents tailored to your goals and wishes

Offering attentive client service through the estate planning process, including helping you review and update your estate plan as needed

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning

Common questions our clients ask about planning for the future include:

Do I need to make an estate plan?

Some people view estate planning as something done only by the wealthy. However, everyone has property and loved ones for whom they want to provide. An estate plan lets you decide who will manage your estate and inherit your assets after your death. It can also help you prepare for the cost of long-term care in your final years and ensure that you have contingencies in the event of a sudden incapacity.

How frequently do I have to review my estate plan?

Once you’ve established an estate plan, your life’s circumstances may change, and your estate plan may no longer reflect your goals or needs. You should review your estate plan every few years to ensure it still reflects your current wishes. You should also review and update your estate plan after significant life events, such as:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • The birth of a child or grandchild
  • Significant increases in income or earning capacity
  • Coming into a significant sum of money, such as an inheritance or lottery winnings
  • Moving to a new state

What if I have property in multiple states?

When a person dies owning property in multiple states, their family may have to open probate proceedings in each of those states to manage the disposition of the decedent’s property. However, various estate planning strategies, such as trusts or retitling of assets, can avoid the time and expense associated with probate proceedings in multiple states.

Contact Us for an Initial Consultation with Our Estate Planning Attorneys

When you need to plan for your and your family’s future, get the legal help you need to protect your hard-earned wealth and interests. Contact the team at Buczek Carpenter today for a free consultation with an estate law specialist to discuss your options and build an estate plan tailored to your needs and goals.

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