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Estate Planning | Virgina Beach, Williamsburg | J.S Burton PLC.

Virginia Estate Planning Firm

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. The attorneys of J.S. Burton, PLC have well over a decade of experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection and elder law and bring that experience to bear with every client in Virginia Beach, Williamsburg & McLean area.

Why Estate Planning Is Important 

The purpose of estate planning is to ensure that all of your assets are preserved for your intended beneficiaries. Therefore, this process is for everyone -- young, old, parent, adult-child and for those at various income levels. In the event that you die without a plan in place,  your assets will be distributed as designated by state law. 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 beneficiaries.

Most Common Tool of Estate Planning - 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. 

Revocable Living Trusts

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 grantor so no probate process is necessary. Trusts, may be less expensive and less time-consuming to administer and are 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.  Trusts may also save you from estate taxes, lawsuits and creditor claims and provide protection against forced Medicaid spend-downs. The attorneys of  J.S. Burton regularly create trusts of all kinds on behalf of estate planning clients and even serve sometimes serves as trustees.

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  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 much more manageable for beneficiaries of the estate.

Estate Planning for Pets

When engaging in estate planning in Virgina Beach & Williamsburg, it is common for people to name guardians for minor children, to specify which family members should get which heirlooms, and to designate beneficiaries of their estate, but planning for the care of one’s pet is often overlooked. Part of responsible pet ownership is having a plan in place for the care of your pet in the event of your incapacity or death. If you are one of the 85 million families in the United States who have a pet, then consideration must be given to develop an estate plan for your pet.  There are a variety of documents that can be used to help ensure your pet is provided for in the event of your incapacity or death. These include a Pet Trust, Will, Durable Power of Attorney for Pet Care, Care Contracts, and Care Instructions.

Gun Trusts

If you have a gun collection, your estate plan may be missing the mark if it fails to include a specially drafted gun trust. The typical estate plan provides for tax saving strategies, probate avoidance and beneficiary designation of various assets. However, some assets pose additional issues that must be carefully addressed to avoid unintended consequences in the future. Firearms, in particular, are regulated under federal and state laws and demand careful attention from your estate planning attorney. Find Out More

Other Estate Planning Instruments

Regardless of your assets, a durable power of attorney over person and property as well as a living will (also known as an advance 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 court controlled guardianship or conservatorship proceeding.

Estate Planning Attorney Serving Greater Virginia

An experienced estate planning attorney can explain to you which options are right for your specific circumstances. Contact the attorneys of J.S. Burton, P.L.C. at (757) 301-9500 for a consultation today.


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477 Viking Drive, Suite 410, Virginia Beach, VA 23452
| Phone: 757.301.9500
5425 Discovery Park Blvd., Suite 101, Williamsburg, VA 23188
| Phone: 757.301.9500
1750 Tysons Blvd., Suite 1500, McLean, VA 22102
| Phone: 757.301.9500

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477 Viking Drive, Suite 410 , Virginia Beach, VA 23452 | Phone: 757.301.9500
5425 Discovery Park Blvd., Suite 101, Williamsburg, VA 23188 | Phone: 757.301.9500
750 Tysons Blvd., Suite 1500, McLean, VA 22102 (By Appointment Only) | Phone: 757.301.9500