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Reston Basic Estate Planning Attorneys
Protecting Your Future
Your estate consists of your money and investments, life insurance, your home and other real estate, and your personal property. Your estate also includes your family, your values, and the legacy you want to leave, both economically and in terms of your values and life goals.
Our Reston basic estate planning lawyers help people from all walks of life protect themselves, their loved ones, their assets, and their legacies. When you hire our firm, we will work closely with you to create a plan that addresses all of your concerns. Our team at Zell Law is extensively familiar with essential estate planning tools and can identify the instruments you need to achieve your objectives and obtain peace of mind.
What Do I Need an Estate Plan?
Consider what would happen if you were to suddenly become incapacitated or pass away? Who would care for your minor children? What would happen to your assets? If you were hospitalized and unable to communicate, who would make decisions about your medical care? Who would take care of your financial affairs and pay your bills? How will your heirs and beneficiaries remember you?
An estate plan can and should answer all of these questions and more. A well-designed estate plan will understand your unique goals and utilize enforceable mechanisms to accomplish them.
A well-designed estate plan can help you:
- Care for yourself during your lifetime, including in situations where you become incapacitated
- Care for your surviving spouse or partner
- Care for and protect your adult and minor children, parents, and other loved ones
- Pass on your values and ideals to your heirs and incentivize them to continue your life’s journey
- Save money, protect wealth, and minimize taxes
- Maintain control over the property you have worked hard to accumulate
Some people misunderstand the importance of estate planning and believe it is a process reserve for the wealthy. While we do offer advanced estate planning services for high-net-worth individuals, the truth is that every adult should have at least a basic estate plan. Even if you are relatively young and healthy, an unexpected tragedy could strike at any time and leave you and your loved ones without a plan.
When you pass away without an estate plan, your estate will be subject to your state’s intestacy laws. Rules vary slightly from state to state, but intestate succession generally involves dividing the decedent’s assets among their closest surviving relatives. You will have no input in how your assets will be distributed or who will care for your minor children. Even if you are uninterested in instituting a complex plan, our Reston basic estate planning attorneys can help you identify the documents and mechanisms you need to avoid this outcome and protect your interests.
Although the practice is common, jointly owning property with your spouse or another loved one is not necessarily an effective estate planning solution. At the very least, you must designate beneficiaries for your retirement accounts and life insurance policies. A basic estate plan should at least include a validated last will and testament, though you should also consider implementing revocable living trusts as part of a more comprehensive plan.
Our Reston basic estate planning lawyers can assist you with:
- Wills. Your last will and testament is the foundational document of your estate plan that allows you to name an executor to manage your estate, a guardian to any minor children, and beneficiaries of your assets. Everyone needs a will to avoid intestate succession, but a will must also be properly executed and witnessed in order to be considered valid. It should be noted that wills are subject to probate and have inherent limitations. They can be more effective when paired with trusts.
- Trusts. Trusts are legal arrangements that shelter, manage, and distribute assets. The creator of the trust – the grantor – appoints a trustee to oversee the trust and its contents to benefit designated beneficiaries. Some trusts are revocable and can be modified throughout your lifetime, while others are irrevocable. Trusts also are private, highly customizable, and avoid probate. We can help you explore your options for implementing various types of trusts.
- Powers of Attorney. When you appoint a power of attorney, you appoint a trusted agent to act on your behalf within a scope that you define. When you formalize a springing power of attorney, the agent’s authority only triggers when you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. You can authorize your power of attorney to manage all of your financial affairs or limit them to completing routine transactions. Our team can help you choose an agent and execute power of attorney authorization documents.
- Advance Medical Directives. Advance medical directives (a/k/a healthcare powers of attorney or healthcare proxies) allow you to dictate what types of medical care you wish to receive if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate. You can also choose a trusted agent – a healthcare power of attorney – to advocate on your behalf. Many use advance medical directives to specify whether they wish to be resuscitated, whether they wish to consent to experimental lifesaving surgery, whether they wish to receive certain types of medications, and what types of end-of-life care they wish to receive.
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