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Wills & Estates
The money you “save” by not having an attorney help you with a legal matter ​can turn out to be the most expensive money you ever saved in your life.
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Virginia Beach Wills & Estate Planning Lawyers

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Key Takeaways

  • Estate planning is critical to all adults, but the majority of Americans have no plan in place.
  • Estate planning protects your assets and saves your family from stress while they are grieving.
  • Estate planning documents include wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advanced medical directives.
  • A skilled estate planning lawyer can help you develop a custom estate plan that fits your needs.

Did you know that only 34% of Americans have estate planning documents, according to a 2023 survey by Caring.com? That means the majority of Americans will be unprepared for when the inevitable finally happens. If your loved ones pass away or become incapacitated, they will need to have estate planning documents ready that map out how their assets should be distributed to properly ensure that their wishes are fulfilled.

Creating an estate plan can be emotionally sobering work, but our Virginia Beach legal counsel can help with that. Whether your estate is a modest one or quite substantial, creating an estate plan is a significant act of kindness for your loved ones that offers peace of mind. You can think of it as “problem prevention.”

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is creating a plan that spells out how your assets will be divided and dealt with in the event of your death or incapacitation. Without these reliable and detailed documents, how your assets are distributed or inherited may not actually align with your wishes.

Who Needs Estate Planning?

Everyone can benefit from estate planning. The inevitable can happen to any of us at any time. If you’ve had your 18th birthday, you ought to have these documents in place. Even young people and people without much in the way of assets or real estate can still benefit from proper estate planning. As long as you have something to pass on to someone else or to an organization like a charity, estate planning documents help oversee that it happens in accordance with your wishes.

Do you have a favorite charity? They won’t get a dime unless you tell us.

Do you want to exclude someone? That also will not happen unless you tell us.

Committed to each other but not lawfully married? You really need an estate plan.

Virginia public policy does not recognize common law marriage. Living together, even for decades, even if everyone in the whole neighborhood knows you’re a committed couple, does not change the fact that, in the eyes of the law, the starting assumption is that unmarried persons living together as a couple are legal strangers to each other. The only way to defeat the unhappiness that comes from that situation is to have an estate plan in place. A well-drafted estate plan consists of a will with a separate written list, a power of attorney, and an advance medical directive. We can help draft an estate plan so that your trusted, unwed loved one is the person who we’ll look to on the occasion of your death or disability.

What Are the Benefits of Estate Planning in Virginia Beach?

The benefits of estate planning are numerous, making the effort well worth the time it takes to get your documents in order. Some of the most notable benefits include the following:

  • Offering financial security for your spouse
  • Protecting your children’s inheritance
  • Providing for minors like grandchildren
  • Minimizing estate taxes
  • Naming guardians for children and minors
  • Establishing reliable living trusts
  • Preventing the loss of assets to creditors
  • Giving assets to charitable organizations

If you have minor children, you are privileged to nominate their guardian.

Nominate the person you wish to be in charge of your estate.

Are you married but separated from your spouse? Have you not seen your spouse in years? Are you divorced with kids and want to leave your estate for their benefit but not in the hands of the other parent? Regardless of your situation, you still have a lawfully wedded spouse – someone who can show up and demand the spousal share of your estate. Come talk to our experienced Virginia Beach legal team about ways you can prepare to handle these possibilities.

More questions? Check this out: Virginia Wills and Estate Planning Q&A

A Guide to Common Estate Planning Documents

Wills

A will is a document that appoints an executor to carry out how you wish your estate to be distributed.

Powers of Attorney

You can choose who will manipulate your resources for you if you become unable.

The only alternative is the in-court proceeding called guardianship — your family will have to ask a judge to decide. This process is often costly, slow, and usually aggravating.

Power of attorney ultimately determines who will be able to manage your finances in the event that you cannot on your own.

Trusts

Trusts let you be the initial trustee and beneficiary, allowing you to enable a successor trustee without court interference or involvement.

Advanced Healthcare Directives

A Virginia Advance Medical Directive (casually called a “living will”) allows the chosen person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the case that you are unable to do so yourself. This includes both your preferred healthcare choices in case you lose the ability to communicate as well as your preferred end-of-life instructions.

Like a power of attorney, the only alternative is the in-court process to have a judge decide who will interact with your doctors for you.

lawyer helping a young family sign documents

The Benefits of Creating a Will

Do you have a will? If not, Virginia statute has one for you, and it is a “one size fits all” approach, which might not suit your family situation. Decide what happens to your property after working with our Virginia Beach estate planning attorneys.

A will allows you to be specific about how your assets will be distributed in the event of your death. Plus, it avoids the probate process because there is documented evidence of your wishes.

Why You Should Hire a Virginia Beach Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning can be complicated, especially if you have complex plans about how you want your assets divided. A Virginia Beach estate planning attorney can help you complete the process properly so that the final documents accurately convey your wishes.

  • Guidance for executors, administrators, or trustees
  • Advice about pay-on-death and transfer-on-death probate avoidance
  • Advice about naming (or not naming) joint owners on your accounts

Whether you have a detailed estate plan that is out-of-date or you are confused about how to create one, we can assess your situation and create a custom legal solution just for you.

Additionally, if you have an estate planning situation that calls for creation of a trust to address it, we’ll help with that, too!

Did you obtain a will or other estate planning document off the internet for free or cheap? You ought to have a Virginia-licensed attorney review it to ensure the document will work in Virginia. The same is true if you received your will or power of attorney documentation for free from the on-base military legal services office. While the military can be somewhat helpful in this regard, Virginia estate planning can be quirky, and we find that it’s a rare day when a military will or power of attorney was reviewed and approved by a legal officer licensed to practice in Virginia.

Estate Planning Services We Provide

We offer a variety of estate planning services within our practice areas that can help you plan for the future.

Standard Estate Planning

Standard estate planning involves common and conventional aspects like drafting wills, asset protection, and implementing advanced directives to uphold a person’s wishes in the event of their death.

Advanced Estate Planning

Given the variety of estates people have, the approach to estate planning needs to be flexible. With our advanced Virginia estate planning services, we can offer custom services for people with extensive assets or complex requirements that warrant an extra degree of individualization and special needs planning.

Charitable Planning

Some people intend for a portion of their assets to be given to a charitable organization, and we can help make it happen. Our services include establishing charitable trusts, private foundations, and just about any other form of charitable planning that you can imagine.

Guardianship and Conservatorship Planning

Incapacitated adults and minors may need assistance with guardianship and conservatorship, and our legal team can help with the extensive planning required.

Trust and Probate Administration

If you need someone to execute the trust that you set up or oversee the distribution of your estate, a lawyer can act as the executor. By using one of our lawyers as the executor in estate administration, it is much easier to avoid family conflict, as they have to function like a fiduciary and work in your best interest.

How to Choose a Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyer

In finding an estate planning lawyer, you will need to consider several factors. First, they should have positive reviews from previous clients. Additionally, they should offer substantial communication and friendliness with you and your case. Finally, they need to understand your unique needs for short-term and long-term care, as every case is different and requires a personal touch.

lawyer pointing where to sign on estate planning documents

Why Our Clients Choose Virginia Beach Law Group

With our law firm’s experience, you can expect exceptional service and dedication in regard to your case and the attorney-client relationship. Here is what a few former clients had to say about our attorneys.

“I’ve worked with David Johnson on a personal case and have sent clients his way for years. He does amazing work and is a true professional. He is my go-to for all things estate planning related.” — Najib K.

“Miss Benvenuto was very professional and courteous in preparing our wills for my wife and me. I highly recommend her for your legal needs in her area of expertise.” — Robert R.

Protect Your Family, Prepare For the Future

If you are in need of estate planning and elder law services, Virginia Beach Law Group is happy to help throughout the Hampton Roads area including Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Newport News, Portsmouth, and Hampton. No matter your age, it is always ideal to have a will in place to protect your family and prepare for your future. Contact our team at the law office today to get started at 757-486-4529 or by using our online contact form for a consultation and legal advice.

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Real Clients, Real Experiences

“This team is amazing! We were delayed in closing due to a last minute discrepancy. Within 24 hours of being cleared up, Kimberley had us set up and ready to close! They were both outstanding and a …”
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“I’ve worked with David Johnson on a personal case and have sent clients his way for years. He does amazing work and is a true professional. He is my go-to for all things estate planning related.”
– N. K.
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