Estate Planning Attorney
Estate Planning gives you a unique and powerful opportunity to provide for your loved ones.
Estate Planning: Create The Documents You Need
We aid Virginia and West Virginia residents with all aspects of estate planning:
- Wills and trusts (including special needs trusts, minor’s trusts, and charitable trusts)
- Powers of attorney
- Advance medical directives
- Guardianships and conservatorships
- Long-term care planning
- Probate assistance and avoidance
- Tax Avoidance or Reduction
For answers to common questions on Estate Planning please read our frequently asked questions.
Relational Estate Planning: A Better Approach
We do more than create high-quality wills, trusts, and long-term planning documents. We also challenge the way people view their last days.
We encourage people to approach their death from the viewpoint of their important relationships, rather than focusing primarily on their assets. Money is no more than a tool to bring closure to the relationships that have enriched a life, and should be handled accordingly. We call this estate planning philosophy Relational Estate Planning, and have seen it:
- bring confidence and peace of mind to our clients,
- strengthen and encouraged their loved ones,
- and fill them with satisfaction about what they are leaving behind.
To learn more about a relational approach to estate planning, click the button below:
“Patient & Thorough
Initial consultation was reasonably priced and thorough. We had questions regarding a somewhat complex elder law situation – buying land held by a supplemental needs trust. Josh was patient and thorough. We then had him draw up the paperwork for the purchase and he did a good job with that as well. He took the time to understand what we wanted vs just producing standard documents.”
Josh did an excellent job assisting us in putting together our Estate and Trust. He was very knowledgeable and informative. He answered all our questions and took the time to ensure we had what we needed.”
“Power of Attorney and Advanced Medical Directive.
Mr. Hummer drew up Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive forms for my father and helped walk my father through the process.
Mr. Hummer was very professional and patient throughout the process and was willing to meet us during non-work hours to accommodate our schedule, as we were visiting from out of town and had to make a flight after the signing.
Mr. Hummer made himself available by phone and was very responsive to any questions. I was glad to find him from local references and was very happy with his work.”
Estate Planning FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
What is estate planning?
This process may also involve important personal decisions, such as indicating who you would want to be guardian of any children under the age of 18 and authorizing someone to make financial and medical decision on your behalf, if you were to become incapacitated.
Estate planning can involve several fields of law, including property, wills, trusts, future interests, insurance, employee benefits, healthcare and taxation.
What is an estate?
When should I write a will?
Dying intestate will result in a court-appointed guardian for your children, rather than one that you have specified in your will.
What happens if I die without a will?
If you do not create a will, many decisions regarding your assets will be made by either state laws or the decision of the Circuit court. For instance, if you do not indicate a preference for the guardian of your children under the age of 18, the Circuit court, with reference to Virginia law, will have full authority to determine a guardian.
Following funeral costs, debts, and other expenses, your estate will go to your spouse in its entirety, unless you have children from a previous relationship. If you have children from a previous relationship, they will receive two-thirds of your estate, and your spouse the remaining third. If you do not have a surviving spouse, then the estate will go your children. If you have neither spouse nor children, it will go to your parents. And if your parents are deceased, then to your siblings. If you have no surviving siblings, then your grandparents. If not have no surviving grandparents, then your surviving aunts or uncles. And so on and so forth, per the Virginia Law of Descent and Distribution.
If you wish to alter this process at all, then you must have a legally-recognized will.
What is a will?
In a will, you typically name
1) your direct beneficiaries, who will receive those assets which you explicitly name,
2) your alternate beneficiaries, who will receive the property if the direct beneficiaries were to pass away before you, and
3) residuary beneficiaries (and alternates,) who will receive all property not left to other beneficiaries directly.
After the author of the will passes away, the will goes through probate, the legal process of being proved in court to be legitimate, before it is then implemented by the executor/personal representative/administrator that the author indicated in the will.
What is a trust?
Further, trusts (unlike wills) can be private and are not recorded in the public records. In order to form a trust, you will transfer your property into the name of the trustee who will manage the trust. You can be the initial trustee.
The trustee will have full ownership and control of all the property in the trust, subject to the terms of the trust agreement. In the trust, you can name the beneficiaries of your assets after you pass, much like you would a will.
If you name yourself as the trustee, you can appoint a successor, who will become the trustee upon your death and be fully responsible for the distribution and management of the estate.
What is the difference between a will and a trust?
A trust is also a legal document that can function like a will as a tool for the enunciation of the creator’s last wishes, but can also be used before death and avoids the probate process. (See above section: What is a trust?)
What is probate?
How do I avoid probate?
How much does writing a will typically cost?
What is a financial Power of Attorney?
What are the taxes on my estate?
There is a federal tax of 40% (in most cases) of all estates which are over an exemption amount currently set at $5.49 million.
Also, the beneficiaries of an estate may be responsible for income taxes on any amounts from an IRA, 401k, or other benefit or retirement plan owned by the decedent.
What is an executor/administrator/personal representative?
How do I appoint a guardian for my children?
While a court can overrule a guardian selected in a will, courts are required to give great weight to the preferences of the parents regarding their choice of guardian.
What is an advance medical directive or living will?
What is the process if I use you for my estate plan?
We will then prepare the documents and give them to you for review. Once they are acceptable, we will schedule a time for you to come in to execute them in the legally required fashion.
Estate Planning Blog
Estate planning is the process of preparing a legal plan for your incapacity and death, and it is crucial for anyone who want to care for themselves, their loved ones, and their assets at the end of the life.
A more holistic and practical outlook on estate planning is that it is the process of ordering your life for your incapacity and death.
For some estates, probate can be a long, expensive, and complicated process. If you want to know how to avoid probate in Virginia, this article gives you an overview of some legal tools that will help you do so.