Roanoke Wills and Trusts Attorney

Although it can be uncomfortable to think about, planning for the end of your life and passing on your legacy is critical. It allows you to state exactly how you want to provide for your loved ones and is one of the most caring gifts you can give them. Instead of letting the state of Virginia dictate how your estate will be divided, contact a Roanoke Wills and Trusts attorney. At Select Law Partners PLLC, you can meet with a trustworthy and experienced Roanoke lawyer who will evaluate your assets and help you understand how documents such as trusts and Wills could benefit your interests. We answer your questions, prepare a plan tailored to your needs, and work with you as those needs change to ensure your family’s future is always protected. Contact us to schedule a consultation today. roanoke wills and trusts attorney

All about Wills

A Will is a written, signed, and witnessed document that details how your property should be divided and who should be the guardian of your minor children. If you die without a Will, you are considered “intestate,” and Virginia’s laws regarding who receives your property go into effect.

What does a Last Will and Testament do?

While you may be amenable to the legally mandated order of inheritance, there are still a lot of benefits to establishing a Last Will and Testament. You have greater control when you decide to write a Will in Virginia. This document can perform several critical acts following your wishes, giving you and your family peace of mind during a difficult time.

Assigns an executor

A Will lets you assign an executor for your estate. To choose an executor, identify a person you trust to be responsible and manage all the financial obligations and tasks of the job. As your estate’s personal representative (PR), they will inventory everything, notify heirs of their inclusion in the Will, and perform fiduciary duties for the estate so it can be closed.

Resolves debts

Your PR will create a list of the estate’s assets and liabilities. They will take control of all assets, including bank accounts, and determine the validity of any outstanding debts or claims on the estate.

Distributes assets

The executor will review the Will to understand who should receive what property from the estate. If there is no specific indication for distribution, they will follow the laws indicating how to divide the shares among the eligible heirs. When you use a Will instead of a trust, those who disagree with their portion may choose to contest the Will and make the process last longer. With a trust, there is much less risk.

Guardianship

Married couples should strongly consider writing a Will when children enter the family. If one of you passes away, the children will go with their other parent, but a tragic accident could claim both your lives. In those instances, having a named guardian in your Will is crucial.

Why do I need an attorney to make a Will?

Wills can include nearly any wishes you like. Still, to ensure they can be upheld if someone decides to contest the asset distribution, you stand a better chance if you work with an experienced estate planning lawyer. They will understand how the law will impact your estate. Working with a skilled estate planning firm, such as Select Law Partners PLLC, allows you to take advantage of our services, such as answering questions, managing the paperwork, and adjusting your documents as your needs change.

Can’t I just create a Will online?

It may seem easier and less expensive to visit a website and assemble your Will or trust online. These companies claim your documents will comply with your state’s laws, but what if you have children with special needs or an aging spouse who requires 24-hour care? Would you trust their future to automated templates?

What should be in a Will?

Wills can be used to distribute personal property that you feel should go to certain family members. These details are unique for every person, but there are some things you should include:
  • Your name and other basic personal information
  • Your legal declaration to provide this testament
  • The name of the executor you appoint (including a secondary person if the first is unable or unwilling)
  • The names of your appointed guardians for your children and pets
  • A list of personal property, who should receive it, and any other beneficiaries

What should not be in a Will?

On the other hand, some items should not be part of your Will. For example, if no one can find your Will describing your funeral wishes, they cannot be honored. You should instead have your attorney prepare a letter of last instruction, where you share any final words to your family and details about handling your remains. Other key items should not be put into a Will. These include:
  • Inheritance for any heir who has special needs
  • Assets you do not want to go through probate court
  • Any property held by a trust or jointly owned
  • Anything you wish to leave to a pet
  • Gifts that have special considerations or instructions associated with their inheritance
roanoke wills and trusts lawyer

All about trusts

Trusts are a valuable part of estate planning because they form separate legal entities that can control and distribute your assets on your behalf. They can be created to come into life when you die, known as a testamentary trust, or can be created and funded during your lifetime. Trusts allow you to transfer assets directly to beneficiaries without delay. They can reduce tax burdens on your heirs and your estate.

Breaking it down: What exactly is a trust?

Trusts are typically one of two types: revocable and irrevocable. A revocable living trust is established during your lifetime and can be changed at any time you choose. It works like a Will in that you can edit it as your desires change but with the protection and privacy of a trust. A testamentary trust is a common estate planning tool. You and your attorney will write the terms of the trust, designate a trustee and beneficiaries, and prepare the paperwork. The trust is not created until you die, whereupon the trustee takes control of the trust and administers its assets.

What can trusts be used to plan for?

Trusts have many benefits, such as avoiding legal entanglements that can keep your heirs from promptly inheriting your assets. This can be critical when there are ongoing bills to be paid for your loved ones.

Death

A trust can provide financial stability for your spouse and children immediately after you pass, ensuring that they will not suffer the added worry and fear about their security. They will have access to their distribution and properties right away.

Potential mental disability or incapacitation

You can also similarly use a trust to plan for your care in the event you become disabled or mentally incompetent. While most people think about the end of their lives when they may develop Alzheimer’s disease, a trust can be there if you suffer a debilitating accident or illness.

Types of trusts in Virginia

There are numerous types of trusts you can establish in Virginia, including the following.

Charitable trust

Charitable remainder trusts allow you to leave some of your estate to a specified charity.

Spendthrift trust

These trusts give asset protection to your beneficiaries by preventing creditors from having access to the beneficiary’s trust assets.

Pet trust

This trust lets you set aside a fund to care for your pets after you pass.

What is a trustee, and what do they do?

There are several people involved in creating a trust. The grantor is the person who provides the funds and assets the trust will manage. The beneficiaries are those who will receive distributions from the trust. The trustee is the person who will manage the trust and administer its financial dealings.

Responsibilities and fiduciary duty

A trustee’s job is similar to that of an executor, it can last for years until the trust terms are completed. A trustee’s duties include:
  • Collecting and valuing the assets
  • Transferring funds among accounts
  • Conveying titles for real estate and vehicles
  • Distributing funds and property to beneficiaries
  • Providing an annual accounting for beneficiaries
The trustee accepts a fiduciary duty for the trust. This means they must maintain, protect, and invest all assets in good faith and with impartiality. Their main duty is to manage the assets for the benefit of the trust and its beneficiaries.

Personal liability

The trustee must uphold their duties to the trust, or they can be held personally responsible for any negative effects. This means the beneficiaries can force the trustee to pay for damages caused by poor trust administration.

Prudent Investor Act

Unless waived, Trustees must abide by the Uniform Prudent Investor Act to consider all risk factors when making adjustments to a trust’s investment approach. Trustees may hire financial planning experts to assist them with these decisions.

What happens after the trust is created?

After its creation, the trust will take ownership of funds, property, and other items you wish to protect from the lengthy and public probate court process. After your death, the trustee will request a tax number for the trust, and it will function as a legal entity that disburses funds and assets to the beneficiaries.

So, what’s the difference between a Will and trust? How do I know which is best for me?

Wills let you pass the property on to your heirs, but all assets must be accounted for in a public probate process. Trusts move assets out of your name but protect them from probate and transfer property directly to your loved ones. However, in nearly all situations, our Roanoke Wills and Trusts lawyers find that clients benefit from including both documents in their estate plans. To understand which is best or whether you need a combination of a Will and a trust, it is best to speak with a well-trained and experienced estate planning attorney. They can evaluate your situation and guide you to the best approach for you.

Ready to take control of your legacy? A Roanoke Wills and Trusts attorney can help.

Take the first steps toward creating and protecting your legacy and your family’s future. Schedule a meeting with a Roanoke Wills and Trusts attorney at Select Law Partners PLLC by calling (855) 541-4867 or using our online form today.

Frequently asked questions about Wills and trusts

Our team receives many of the same questions about Wills and trusts. Here are some of the most frequently asked ones.

How should I choose a trustee?

A trustee must be at least 18 years old. Other than that, we suggest you choose someone responsible, trustworthy, and experienced or who will seek guidance. They should also be able to devote the time to the duties required to protect and administer the trust.

What’s a Living Will, and what does it do?

A Living Will or advance directive dictates your wishes concerning extraordinary lifesaving measures if you are severely injured, ill, or in a coma. They are meant to give a power of attorney to a family member to make medical decisions on your behalf.

What do I need to create a Will?

First, you must be at least 18 and of sound mind. Virginia requires that your Will be in writing and witnessed.

Does having a Will help you avoid probate?

No, it does not. Whether you have a Will or not, your executor must provide an accounting and inventory of your estate to the probate court for tax purposes. If a trust controls your assets, it will help to avoid probate.