Reasons to do an Estate Review
1. Your wills, powers of attorney, living will and trusts are more than 5 years old or you have not been informed about powers of attorney (for both health care and finances), trusts (living and others), living wills, etc…
There have been many changes to the rules of estates and wills over the past several years. Many attorneys have been slow to pick up on these changes.
2. Your wills and other documents are from out-of-state.
Out-of-State Documents: Though each state seeks to honor wills and other documents from other states, the difference in laws usually means that your intentions are not carried out exactly how you wish.
3. You have property in more than one state
Property in more than one state: An absolute must in getting an estate updated. Going through one probate is hard enough. Unless you have already taken steps to prevent this particular issue from affecting your estate, going through two is a positively horrible experience that should be avoided at all times.
4. You don’t want to pass on a lump sum to your children
Some children are good with money, some are not. It is always wise to extend payments for those children who are better at spending money than saving it. In some cases, it may even be wise to extend payments for children who are good with money.
5. You have a special needs child or grandchild
Some children or grandchildren need help for a variety of reasons for their entire lives. This could be due to physical, mental or even psychological reasons.
6. You want to disinherit your son-in-law or daughter-in-law
With divorce so common, do you want your estate to go to your children and grandchildren, or your son/daughter-in-law and their new spouse?
7. You have probate issues, want to keep your affairs private or do some charitable giving
There are several ways to avoid costly probates, keep your affairs private and still allow for giving to your favorite charity while providing benefits to you and your family.
8. You have had major changes in your life or your beneficiaries lives since your last documents were completed (i.e. marriages, children, divorces, children grew up, new grandchildren, accumulated over $200,000 more in wealth, deaths in the family, etc…)? Do you have self-proving documents?
These changes will always affect your estate. Sometimes dramatically.
Self-Proving Documents: Both witnessed and notarized. This prevents having to find witnesses to your signature at the time of probate.
9. You have concerns about long term care (i.e. possibly even nursing home care)
Is “impoverishing” yourself to give a little more to your children a good idea? Almost always, it is a bad idea.
10. Are there any persons not named in the will that you wish to provide for or are there any persons that you wish to take out of the will?
This happens all the time!
11. Are there any persons you wish to disinherit?
This is much more common than you would think. This must be done properly, or a court will throw it out.
12. Are there any legacies (bequests of gifts) which are now modified, altered, revoked or preferred?
Obviously, this must be corrected with a new will.
13. Has any property given to a specific person in the will been sold, lost or destroyed since the will was executed?
This might cause an uneven distribution of your estates.
14. Has any property that is mentioned in the will been mortgaged or sold on contract?
This could complicate the estate during probate.
15. Has the testator obtained life insurance loans since the will was executed?
Life insurance will bypass your Will and if a beneficiary is someone other than your Estate, it could cause an uneven distribution of your estates.
16. Has the testator made any substantial gifts or loans to any legatee (person to inherit under the will) since the will was executed?
This might cause an uneven distribution of your estates. Also, the gifts or loans (if not paid back) could be made as part of the person’s future inheritance, thereby “evening out” the estate once again.
17. Has a legatee reached the age of majority since the will was executed?
Then a minor’s trust will not be needed, but you still might not want the legatee to receive their inheritance right away, but extend it over several years.
18. Has any fiduciary (Executor, Trustee, Guarding) died or left the state?
Usually, Executors for Virginian Estates must be citizens of Virginia.
19. Are the fiduciaries named in the will still capable and willing to carry out their responsibilities?
Perhaps by now your children are grown and can assume these responsibilities.
20. Do you have backup or substitute fiduciaries?
This is very important, given the fact that some fiduciaries will move or may become unable to fulfill their responsibilities for various reasons.
21. Has Testator given or taken a long-term lease on land?
This might complicate the estate during probate.
22. You may inherit a substantial sum of money or property in the future.
Today it is very common for people in their sixties and even seventies to have parents still living.
23. You want to provide personal and financial safeguards for families and other beneficiaries.
24. You want to postpone or avoid unnecessary taxes and probate expenses.
25. You want to establish a means of controlling or administering property.
26. You want to keep your privacy.
27. You want to make the transfer of property easier for heirs.
This avoids the trouble of probating and switching property over to heirs. When you die, the assets in the trust automatically switch to the heirs with new trustees (often the same people).Note: The information given on this website does not constitute legal or accounting advice or opinion, and should not be relied upon for any planning purposes. it is provided solely and exclusively for general, non-specific educational purposes and to advise the reader of the nature of the services offered individually by my law firm. Planning of this nature is necessarily very circumstance-specific and therefore it would be dangerous to apply the very general rules described herein to any singular fact-pattern. Prudence demands that you consult with an experienced professional licensed in Virginia before attempting any of the planning techniques described herein. Additionally, the information given is not meant to be a substitute for legal representation. It provides general legal information to help people understand their legal rights but is not a substitute for personal legal advice from an attorney. however, laws change and individual circumstances vary. – Billy J. Seabolt, Esq.