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Estate Planning FAQ's


What is a revocable trust?

  • A revocable trust is a trust established to pass assets outside of probate.

Do I need a revocable trust?

  • If you have real property in a jurisdiction outside of Virginia, want to avoid probate, want to "manage assets" in trust after death, then a revocable trust may be a strong consideration.

Can I make a joint trust with my spouse?

  • Often unforeseen events present themselves and one’s interest can become divergent to his or her spouse, thus it is not recommended to have a joint trust.

What assets should be funded/transferred into my revocable trust?

  • Funding real property, tangible personal property, and some intangible personal property are for consideration. There are certain intangible personal property items that should not be funded into a revocable trust.

Can I control my assets so that they stay in by bloodline?

  • Yes, you can maintain your assets within a trust for the use and maintenance of your bloodline.

What if I don’t want equal shares to go to my children?

  • You specify what amounts, if any should be disbursed to your children.

What if I don’t want a child to take at all?

  • You are not required to leave any assets to a child; however, very careful language addressing this matter should be included in your document.

What if I don’t trust anyone to be the trustee of my trust?

  • You may be the trustee of your revocable trust, and should name trustee individuals or entities to be your successor trustees. If you do not know someone you trust to name as a successor trustee, you may consider an attorney or an entity that provided such services.


Do I need a will?

  • Everyone should have a will in place when they pass.

What if I don’t have a will in place when I die?

  • If you die intestate, meaning without a will, your assets will pass per the laws of descent and distribution set forth in the Code of Virginia.

Do I have to leave assets to my children?

  • You are not required to leave any assets to a child; however, very careful language addressing this matter should be included in your document.

Can I keep assets in my bloodline?

  • Yes, testamentary trusts, trusts established through a will, can affect this intent.

How do I protect my minor children?

  • Yes, guardianship language, naming who you want to be guardian of your minor child upon your passing.

Can I set money aside for my pets?

  • Yes, we can set money aside in a pet trust for your pets.

May I leave a specific amount of money to a friend?

  • Yes, you can identify a specific amount of money you would like to leave to a friend, though there is also protective language that should be considered and included.

What if I want to leave a piece of heirloom jewelry to a certain person?

  • You may leave tangible personal property to a specific person in your will, as well as a "living list" referenced in your will.

Should I make both of my children Co-Executors?

  • Many individuals want to name their children as an executor in their will. Consider naming one as primary, and then having the others named as successor executors.

What if one of my grandchildren has special needs?

  • Consider including special needs trust language in your will, or establishing a special needs trust for the individual with special needs and referencing the trust in your will.

Power of Attorney

Do I need a power of attorney?

  • Yes, everyone should have a power of attorney in place.

What does a power of attorney do?

  • A power of attorney gives another person the authority to make decisions about the care of your person, as well as your finances

Do I need a power of attorney if I have made my adult-child joint owner with right-of- survivorship on my bank accounts?

  • Yes, put a power of attorney in place. Speak with an attorney about the risks to you should you make another the joint owner on your bank accounts.

When is a power of attorney effective?

  • Powers of attorney can be effective upon signing, or upon incapacity.

How long does a power of attorney last?

  • A power of attorney "dies at death."

Who may be my agent?

  • Anyone may be named your agent. Please make sure you trust who you name.

Advance Medical Directive

I have a living will, do I need an advance medical directive?

  • Probably. In general, living wills may not address the scope of your medical wishes if you are ill and need medical attention, as well as end-of-life, as well as naming an agent.

What does an advance medical directive do?

  • Memorializes your medical wishes should you become ill, should you be at the end-of- life, and it names an agent who can advocate and make decisions on your behalf.

How many agents do I need to name?

  • Name a primary, and as many successor agents as you trust.

How long does an advance medical directive last?

  • Advance medical directives last until death. You can limit the timeframe of an advance medical directive; however, discuss the risks of such an action.

Who should I name as my agent?

  • Name individuals as your agent who you trust will carry out your wishes.

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