Well over half of all Americans have not planned for incapacity or death. Estate planning allows us to exert some control over our affairs after we die. It also eases the process for our loved ones by getting many of the hard decisions, like who gets what, out of the way ahead of time. Estate planning, however, is not a do-it-yourself process. You need an experienced attorney, such as those at J.S. Burton, to set up a comprehensive plan to ensure that all of your bases are covered.
While there are some commonly used estate planning tools, every plan should be customized to a person’s specific situation. Attorney John Burton has almost 15 years of experience in the areas of estate planning and elder law and brings that experience to bear with every client he serves.
The purpose of estate planning is to ensure that all of your assets are preserved for your loved ones. Therefore, this process is for everyone -- young, old, parent, adult-child and for those at various income levels. While estate planning can be especially helpful for those with assets worth $5.43 million dollars or more (the limit for current federal estate tax exemption), working with an estate planning attorney allows you to distribute your assets on your own terms. In the event that you die without a plan in place, it protects you from having your assets distributed as designated by the state It is also important to remember that anyone can become incapacitated or die at any time. For this reason, no matter what your age, estate planning is something to be undertaken in the present since procrastination can endanger your loved ones.
Wills and Trusts
Two of the most common tools used in estate planning are wills and trusts. A will is a legal document that provides instructions as to how your assets should be distributed after you die. Wills must be probated, or validated, in a special state court. This process is often time-consuming and expensive. Also, this process is not private since any records filed with the court are available to the public. This transparency can cause problems among beneficiaries and even among those who are not included in the will, but feel entitled to an inheritance. An additional complexity is that, if you own real property in more than one state, your loved ones may be subjected to more than one probate.
Besides a will, another more popular, estate planning tool is the revocable living trust. Once a trust is created, all of your assets are transferred into it. Then, upon your passing, these assets are distributed according to the terms of the trust. Trusts are highly customizable and allow assets to pass automatically upon the death of the trustee so no probate process is necessary. Trusts, therefore, are less expensive and less time-consuming to administer and much more private. Even so, a will is usually drafted as well to cover any of the assets that were not transferred into the trust in time. J.S. Burton regularly create trusts of all kinds on behalf of estate planning clients and even serve sometimes serves as trustees. You can read more about the different types of trusts by clicking here.
Probate and Estate Administration
J.S. Burton is available to represent you in the probate or administration process. We are often appointed as executors of a clients' estates and can assist if the appointed executor is unable to fulfill his or her duties. We can competently handle all related matters, making the process must more manageable for beneficiaries of the estate.
Regardless of your assets, a durable power of attorney over person and property as well as a living will (also known as an advanced healthcare directive) should both be executed to cover you in the event that you become incapacitated. These documents will allow your agent to make important healthcare and financial decisions for you without the hassle of going through a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding.
Estate Planning Attorney Serving Virginia Beach and Williamsburg
An experienced estate planning attorney can explain to you which option is right for your specific circumstances. Contact Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, Virginia attorney John Burton at (757) 301-9500 for a consultation today.