Estate Planning Services
Did you know that everyone has an estate plan? Even if you don’t create one yourself, the Commonwealth of Virginia will make one for you – and often it isn’t what you would have wanted or what is best for you and your family.
No matter what your situation in life may be, you should have an estate plan that is tailored to your unique needs. Only then can you rest assured that your wishes will be carried out should you become incapacitated or pass away.
Everyone Needs an Estate Plan
Each person has different needs, depending on their age, health situation, family dynamics, and financial situation. If you have young children, you will need to name a guardian for your children to ensure that your assets will be protected if you pass away while they are still young.
If you are older, you may be concerned about protecting your assets from the cost of long-term care, ensuring financial security for your future and leaving an inheritance for your children and grandchildren once you pass away.
If you are single, widowed or divorced, it is important that you designate someone to handle your affairs if you become incapacitated or pass away. If you don’t, a court will most likely appoint a family member or close friend to handle your affairs for you, and it may or may not be the same person you would have chosen if you had an estate plan.
Here are a few of the estate planning services that Alperin Law offers:
- Traditional estate planning, including wills, revocable trusts, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives
- Advanced estate planning, including irrevocable trusts and advanced tax planning
- Probate and trust administration
- Charitable planning, including private foundations and charitable trusts
- Premarital agreements
- Special needs trusts
- Guardianships and conservatorships
Fundamental Estate Planning
Learn more about why estate planning is important, and how Alperin Law can help you organize your estate.
Power of Attorney
Most people who think about estate planning immediately think about a will or a trust. However, one of the most important estate planning documents, which every person over the age of eighteen should have, is the power of attorney.
If you do not have a power of attorney and become unable to manage your personal or business affairs, it may become necessary for a court to appoint one or more people to act for you. This process can be both financially and emotionally devastating for your loved ones.
By taking the time to execute this relatively simple document, you can avoid turmoil and expense while ensuring that your wishes will be carried out. A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf if you ever become unable to make financial decisions on your own.
This person is typically referred to as your “agent.” The power you grant to them could be limited to a specific activity, such as closing the sale of your home, or it could be general in its application – allowing your agent to act on your behalf in almost all financial situations and transactions.
Who Should Be Your Agent?
You may wish to choose a family member to act on your behalf. Many people name their spouses or one or more children. In naming more than one person to act as agent at the same time, be alert to the possibility that all may not be available to act when needed, or they may not agree.
The designation of co-agents should indicate whether you wish to have the majority act in the absence of full availability and agreement. You should name a successor agent to address the possibility that the person you name as agent may be unavailable or unable to act when the time comes.
There are no special qualifications necessary for someone to act as an agent except that the person must not be a minor or otherwise incapacitated. The best choice is someone you trust.
Beyond Signing Checks
In addition to managing your day-to-day financial affairs, your agent can take steps to implement your estate plan. Although an agent cannot revise your will on your behalf, some jurisdictions permit an agent to create or amend trusts for you during your lifetime, or to transfer your assets to trusts you created.
This type of power helps your agent work with an estate planning attorney to plan for the possibility that you may need long-term care and undertake legal strategies to protect your assets from being spent down to pay for that care. It is prudent to include in the power of attorney a clear statement of whether you wish your agent to have these powers.
Because executing the right type of power attorney for your situation can be difficult and confusing, it is important that you consult with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you design proper plan for your unique situation.
No one wants to think about the possibility that they could become unable to make their own medical decisions. However, this becomes a reality every day for people who have an accident or a sudden health emergency.
If this happens to you, the last thing you want to put your family through is wondering what your wishes would have been or who you would have wanted to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
Advance Medical Directives
A little planning on your part regarding your wishes can have a big impact on your treatment and the emotional state of your loved ones.
An Advance Medical Directive is a document in which you can state your wishes regarding your health care treatment if you ever become unable to voice these wishes in a medical emergency.
Through this document, you can express whether or not you wish to:
- be given life-sustaining treatments in the event you are terminally ill or injured.
- be provided food and water via intravenous devices.
- use heart-lung machines, ventilators, and other medical equipment and techniques that will sustain and possibly extend your life.
Health Care Power of Attorney
Through a Health Care Power of Attorney, you can appoint someone to whom you grant authority to make medical decisions in the event you are unable to express your preferences. This person will be required to act according to the wishes you expressed in your Advance Medical Directive.
Most commonly, this situation occurs either because you are unconscious or because your mental state is such that you do not have the legal capacity to make your own decisions.
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), doctors and medical professionals cannot release a patient’s medical information to anyone who has not been previously authorized to have access to them.
For this reason, it is important that you execute a document that authorizes specific people to have access to your medical records in the event that you experience a medical emergency.
Typically, we advise that you include all of the agents that you named under your Health Care Power of Attorney in the HIPAA Authorization.
Executing Your Health Care Documents
While most states recognize the validity of these documents, the legal requirements for these document varies on a state-by-state basis.
For this reason, it is important to consult an experienced estate planning attorney in your area before executing these documents.
If you move to another state, you may want to consider re-executing your health care documents to ensure that they remain valid.
We can help you plan for what happens to your firearms as a part of your estate plan. A “gun trust” is a great option to ensure that your fire arms are passed over to your loved ones in a manner that avoids legal issues.
Whom we serve
Alperin Law serves clients in the Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Newport News and throughout Virginia.
For a no-cost phone consultation, feel free to call us at (757) 490-3500.