Hopefully, you have a customized estate plan for you and your family already established. Whether it is a will, trust, or a beneficiary contract structure, there is no one right plan for every family. Yet, regardless of the estate plan you have, there are some common oversights it is important to be aware of.
- DIY Will: Many people love do-it-yourself projects. An estate plan should not be one of those projects. We have reviewed wills that were downloaded or bought online only to inform the family the will is not valid in Virginia. Even if these templated documents are valid, they often do not accomplish what the person hoped because the person filling out the form had a lack of understanding of how the law works. Always contact an estate planning attorney to customize a plan for your family.
- Not Funding Your Trust: Many people set up a living trust for their family but fail for fully fund the trust. This oversight significantly reduces or eliminates the trust’s potential benefits. For the trust to be able to control, as opposed to the probate court, an asset’s ownership must be legally transferred into the trust. If legal titles to homes, vehicles or financial accounts are not transferred into the trust, the trust is of no effect and the assets must be probated.
- Failing to Coordinate Beneficiary Contracts: A beneficiary contract is any vehicle that designates a beneficiary upon the death of the owner of the asset. Life insurance, retirement accounts and investment accounts are all common beneficiary contracts. Often, people forget that these contracts control over your will and trust. Assets structured as beneficiary contracts need to be coordinated with your estate plan to ensure they match your intentions.
- Not Giving Executor Access to Documents: The executor of an estate needs to be able to access the decedent’s important papers in order to locate assets and close up the decedent’s affairs. Letting your executor know where your important documents are stored is an important step that is often missed. Leave a notebook or other instructions that list your significant assets, where they are located, and include identifying information such as account numbers or passwords.
If you or someone you know needs further assistance with wills, trusts or estate law in Virginia, please click the “Schedule a Consult” link above and a receptionist will assist in connecting you with an wills, trusts, and estate attorney. Hanger Law serves the following cities and counties in the greater Hampton Roads and Richmond areas: Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, Newport News, Yorktown, Seaford, Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City County, Isle of Wight County, Smithfield, New Kent County, Toano, Gloucester, Hayes, Richmond, Henrico County, Mechanicsville, Ashland, Hanover, Midlothian, and Chesterfield County.