Lawyer for Wills and Trusts
Take the time to prepare for a happier future.
Wills and trusts are vital to planning for your life, and the future of your loved ones. The process involves important legal steps to ensure that when you are no longer able to provide for them, your family will be taken care of.
Drafting the necessary documents goes beyond clarifying your wishes in writing. You are providing your loved ones peace of mind by making the probate process easier, less stressful, and less costly.
Wills and Trusts: Carefully Crafting Your Legacy
We have represented Virginia residents with all aspects of elder law, drafting of wills, and the creation of trusts (including for special cases).
Specific areas of our practice include:
- Wills and trusts
- Special needs trusts
- Estate plans
- Advanced medical directives
For answers to common questions on wills and trusts, please read our frequently asked questions.
“Patient & Thorough
Initial consultation was reasonably priced and thorough. We had questions regarding a somewhat complex elder law situation – buying land held by a supplemental needs trust. Josh was patient and thorough. We then had him draw up the paperwork for the purchase and he did a good job with that as well. He took the time to understand what we wanted vs just producing standard documents.”
Josh did an excellent job assisting us in putting together our Estate and Trust. He was very knowledgeable and informative. He answered all our questions and took the time to ensure we had what we needed.”
A will is a legal document that records your wishes for what will happen to your property after you pass away. Having a properly drafted will helps to determine the care of any minor children you may have, as well as care for your surviving spouse and other family members. The Law Office of Joshua E. Hummer also specializes in creating advance medical directives, which details your medical care in the event you become incapacitated.
We specialize in:
- Advance medical directives
- Guardianships and conservatorships
My husband and I sought Mr Hummer’s help in creating our Will, Power of Attorney, and other associated documents. This was a very important process to us, as we wanted to ensure that all documentation was in place for our children in the event our death or other tragedy.
We appreciated Josh’s recommendations for language, etc. He was very specific and helpful in making sure he had all of the necessary information to create our Will. His care and concern for our purpose in creating these documents was very genuine. I would highly recommend Mr Hummer!”
“He gave her a voice!
I cannot thank Mr. Hummer enough for actually listening to my Great Aunt and giving her a voice in her personal legal matters. She has been trying for several years but her concerns have been poopooed away by others not wanting to either get involved or not willing to accommodate her needs.
Mr. Hummer came to her, treated her with dignity and actually listened to her wishes and came up with a plan of action she was comfortable with and followed through with her wishes in a very timely manner. Thank you Mr. Hummer for giving her a voice that is loud and clear!”
A trust is an excellent way to ensure that someone you care about will be taken care of once you pass away. It can involve the distribution of assets or protection of minor children or disabled children or adults. Here at the Law Office of Joshua E. Hummer, we work with you to set up trusts according to your needs and wishes, and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, and the needs of your loved ones.
Our specialties include:
- Living trusts
- Special needs trusts
- Tax reduction
“Power of Attorney and Advanced Medical Directive.
Mr. Hummer drew up Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive forms for my father and helped walk my father through the process.
Mr. Hummer was very professional and patient throughout the process and was willing to meet us during non-work hours to accommodate our schedule, as we were visiting from out of town and had to make a flight after the signing.
Mr. Hummer made himself available by phone and was very responsive to any questions. I was glad to find him from local references and was very happy with his work.”
Wills and Trusts FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I write a will?
It’s important to not procrastinate on creating a will or any other estate planning document. Dying without some kind of estate plan means that your property will be divided according to your state’s intestacy laws, risking the distribution of your assets in a manner that may contradict your wishes.
Dying intestate will result in a court-appointed guardian for your children, rather than one that you have specified in your will.
What happens if I die without a will?
Each state has a predetermined process for the division of your assets upon your death, if you happen to die without indicating your desires in some form of estate planning (specifically a will). These state laws are called “intestate” laws and differ by state. The following paragraphs will specifically address Virginia’s intestate laws.
If you do not create a will, many decisions regarding your assets will be made by either state laws or the decision of the Circuit court. For instance, if you do not indicate a preference for the guardian of your children under the age of 18, the Circuit court, with reference to Virginia law, will have full authority to determine a guardian.
Following funeral costs, debts, and other expenses, your estate will go to your spouse in its entirety, unless you have children from a previous relationship. If you have children from a previous relationship, they will receive two-thirds of your estate, and your spouse the remaining third. If you do not have a surviving spouse, then the estate will go your children. If you have neither spouse nor children, it will go to your parents. And if your parents are deceased, then to your siblings. If you have no surviving siblings, then your grandparents. If not have no surviving grandparents, then your surviving aunts or uncles. And so on and so forth, per the Virginia Law of Descent and Distribution.
If you wish to alter this process at all, then you must have a legally-recognized will.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that sets forth your last wishes, regarding the distribution of your property and the care of your children.
In a will, you typically name
1) your direct beneficiaries, who will receive those assets which you explicitly name,
2) your alternate beneficiaries, who will receive the property if the direct beneficiaries were to pass away before you, and
3) residuary beneficiaries (and alternates,) who will receive all property not left to other beneficiaries directly.
After the author of the will passes away, the will goes through probate, the legal process of being proved in court to be legitimate, before it is then implemented by the executor/personal representative/administrator that the author indicated in the will.
What is a trust?
A trust is the entity created by a legal document that is similar to, but more flexible than, a will. A trust can be designed for the administration of the author’s last wishes, but it also allows the author to specify a trustee to manage money or assets before or after he or she passes. Unlike a will, a trust does not go through the probate process.
Further, trusts (unlike wills) can be private and are not recorded in the public records. In order to form a trust, you will transfer your property into the name of the trustee who will manage the trust. You can be the initial trustee.
The trustee will have full ownership and control of all the property in the trust, subject to the terms of the trust agreement. In the trust, you can name the beneficiaries of your assets after you pass, much like you would a will.
If you name yourself as the trustee, you can appoint a successor, who will become the trustee upon your death and be fully responsible for the distribution and management of the estate.
What is the difference between a will and a trust?
A will is a legal document, enforced by a court through the process of probate when someone dies. (See above section: What is a will?)
A trust is also a legal document that can function like a will as a tool for the enunciation of the creator’s last wishes, but can also be used before death and avoids the probate process. (See above section: What is a trust?)
What is probate?
Probate is the proves by which a will is proved legitimate in court, at which point the court will appoint a personal representative of the state to gather the assets and distribute them under the supervision of the court.
How do I avoid probate?
You can avoid probate by transferring all of your assets into a trust before you pass, and/or if you meet certain other requirements, like if your estate in under the threshold for the formal appointment of an executor, which is $75,000.00 for the full value of your estate in Virginia.
How much does writing a will typically cost?
The cost of writing a will can vary widely based on the complications (or lack thereof) involved in the estate plan. Simple estates are much easier to put together than complicated estates and as a result, cost less to create. To the extent that an estate plan includes trusts, businesses, etc., the cost can increase.
What is a financial Power of Attorney?
The financial power of attorney is the legal document which allows someone to make financial decisions for you, if you were to become incapacitated, incompetent, or otherwise unable to communicate. This can be helpful if you have ongoing bills or other financial problems that will need to be managed by someone in the event of your incapacitation, incompetency or inability to communicate.
What are the taxes on my estate?
There are several forms of taxes on any estate. In Virginia, probate taxes are applied to any estate. Virginia probate taxes are $1.00 per $1,000.00 of the estate, or 0.1%. Localities may also impose a probate tax equal to 1/3 of the state probate tax.
There is a federal tax of 40% (in most cases) of all estates which are over an exemption amount currently set at $5.49 million.
Also, the beneficiaries of an estate may be responsible for income taxes on any amounts from an IRA, 401k, or other benefit or retirement plan owned by the decedent.
What is an executor/administrator/personal representative?
A personal representative (as known as an executor) is an individual or individuals appointed as part of the probate process. There duties include collecting the decedent’s estate, reporting to the court, and then distributing the estate in accordance the decedent’s will or if he dies without a will according the intestacy laws of the state.
How do I appoint a guardian for my children?
In Virginia, you can appoint a guardian in your will who will gain custody of the children after both of the child’s biological parents have passed.
While a court can overrule a guardian selected in a will, courts are required to give great weight to the preferences of the parents regarding their choice of guardian.
What is an advance medical directive or living will?
An advance medical directive or living will is the legal document that both (a) allows you to specify what type of medical treatment you want if you are unable to communicate or decide and (b) allows you to appoint someone else to make medical decisions for you, if you were to become incapacitated, incompetent, or other unable to communicate.
Estate Planning Blog
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