Probate is the legal process that includes proving the validity of a decedent’s will, identifying the decedent’s assets and transferring those assets to the decedent’s heirs, beneficiaries and/or creditors. “Probate assets” are assets that pass to your heirs or beneficiaries pursuant to your will. “Non-probate assets” are assets that pass to your heirs or beneficiaries by some means outside of your will, thereby avoiding the probate process that involves qualification of a fiduciary, costs, and delay, as well as other aspects of probating a will.
Some examples of non-probate assets in Virginia are:
Assets with a Named Beneficiary. Life insurance contracts payable to a designated beneficiary, and retirement benefits payable to a designated beneficiary, such as 401(k)s and IRAs, pass directly to the named beneficiary at the death of the policy or account owner, rather than by a will.
Payable on Death (POD) … Read More »
An advance medical directive is a legal document that allows a person to state what they want for their own medical care if they are unable to make decisions for themselves due to incapacity.
In Virginia, advance medical directives are authorized under the Virginia Health Care Decisions Act.
An Advance Medical Directive may be used to:
specify what the person executing the directive (known as the declarant) does or does not authorize with regard to his or her healthcare;
appoint an agent or a third party to make healthcare decisions for the declarant; and
specify anatomical gifts of a specific part or parts of the declarant’s body, or the declarant’s entire body, for organ and tissue donation.
Executing an Advance Medical Directive
Per Virginia Code § 54.1-2983, in order to be a legally binding document an advance medical direct must be signed by the declarant in the … Read More »
How you hold title to your real estate (real property) may have an impact on whether or not it can be left to someone in your will. When having a will drafted and considering who you want your real property to pass to upon your death, it is important to know how title to your real property is held. It is also important that you provide your attorney with the title or deed of trust for each piece of real property that you own so that it can be properly addressed in your will.
Title refers to legal ownership and the right to use property. There are several forms of ownership of real property in Virginia, including:
Sole ownership. Title to real property held in the name of one person is sole ownership. The person who is the sole owner of the property … Read More »
A written agreement between parents or a court order regarding custody and visitation are the most common methods by which custody and visitation are determined between parents who are no longer together. However, in the event that one parent will be absent from the country, a power of attorney may be an appropriate means of giving someone who is not a custodian or guardian of your children the ability to act on your behalf during their absence.
Virginia law provides for children’s enrollment in school when living with relatives who are not their parents, by use of special “kinship care arrangements.”
Virginia also allows military families to have a power of attorney regarding the care of minor children, by recognizing the military power of attorney instrument provided in 10 U.S.C. § 1044(b). See Virginia Code § 64.2-1604 and the Interstate Compact on … Read More »
Divorce is an emotional and overwhelming time in a person’s life. If you do not enter the divorce with the necessary financial information, the process may be even more overwhelming than anticipated. By taking certain actions at the start of the divorce process, you can protect yourself from future surprises, and potentially avoid a great deal of stress later on. Here are four financial steps you should consider taking before divorce:
1. Obtain Financial Documents
If you do not keep good financial records or have limited to no access to your financial documents, now would be the time to gather and retain copies of these documents. These documents should include: tax returns, checking, savings, and bank statements; investment statements, retirement account statements, and other documents that address any sources of your or your spouse’s income. Try to gather all of these financial documents for the last three to … Read More »
Are you separated from your spouse, or otherwise undergoing marital difficulties? If so, you may find yourself wondering whether your spouse can disinherit you. In Virginia, the short answer is no. Virginia law protects surviving spouses from being disinherited by allowing the surviving spouse to claim an “elective share” of the decedent’s estate if the decedent died without a will, if the spouse is omitted from the will, and even if the decedent explicitly disinherited the surviving spouse in the will. The right to an elective share continues even where the parties are separated or pending divorce, until a divorce is final.
What Are You Entitled to Under the Elective Share?
The answer to this question is going to change for decedents dying on or after January 1, 2017, based on some 2016 revisions to the Virginia Code.
For decedents dying before January … Read More »
Powers of attorney are valuable tools for managing your business and personal affairs, and health care. If you are considering one, here are seven things you should know about powers of attorney in Virginia:
1. What Is a Power of Attorney? A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you (the “principal”) to appoint someone (the “agent”) to act on your behalf. A limited power of attorney contains language that restricts the agent’s authority to a specified act or specified period of time. A general power of attorney is effective upon signing and gives the agent authority to do anything you could do for yourself, but it is no longer effective if you become incapacitated. A springing power of attorney (also called a conditional power of attorney) becomes effective if and when you become incapacitated; it can also be … Read More »