Virginia Asset Protection Attorneys
Most of us have worked long and hard to acquire our assets, and we want the peace of mind that results from knowing they will be distributed according to our instructions after death. J.S. Burton is experienced and skilled in all forms of asset protection and can assist in sheltering assets, regardless of their character.
A number of things can threaten estate assets before and after the testator (person to whom the estate belongs) dies. One major threat to assets is the possibility that long-term medical and nursing home care will be needed in the future. Long-term care is exceptionally expensive and, with the elderly population growing as people live longer, it becomes more and more likely that a person will need this type of care at some point in their life. The costs of care can easily diminish a nest egg in a matter of months or years, making it impossible for a person to leave these assets to loved ones.
Planning for Long-Term Care
There are, however, ways to plan for long-term care that will enable a person to preserve assets for the beneficiaries of their estate. Medicaid is means-tested, government-provided health coverage and will cover long-term care costs for those who qualify. J.S. Burton will work with a client's current assets and income in order to make them eligible for this program. We regularly assist clients in preserving their assets from long-term care costs, either if the need for long-term care is anticipated beforehand or is needed immediately. The best part is that the client is usually able to maintain control over their assets until they become incapacitated or die.
When developing a comprehensive estate plan, we usually include a durable power of attorney and advance medical directive. By appointing an agent up front to make financial and healthcare decisions once unable to do so preserves the client’s assets by freeing them from guardianship or conservatorship hearings and the resulting costs.
We regularly represent lawyers, doctors, and other professionals and business owners who have increased liability as a result of their occupation. Liability can result from malpractice, the breach of fiduciary duties, and negligence claims of all kinds. While a lawsuit can have devastating financial effects on anyone, being found liable can have a catastrophic effect on a professional or business owner. Therefore, we work with clients to separate personal and business assets so that personal assets are untouchable by creditors. We also incorporate the necessary items into the estate plan to limit a person’s liability before and after death. Whether your assets, business interests, or entity are domestic or offshore, J.S. Burton can help.
If you are concerned about asset protection, you should contact J.S. Burton at (888) 885-9001 for a consultation today.
“Professional, courteous, vast knowledge and explanations were superior!”- Nicole G.
“I found his professionalism, clarity, and expertise very evident and would definitely recommend his practice.”- Lillie B.
“John Burton and his team are true professionals.”- Denise W.
“Our work with Attorney John Burton was all we had hoped it could be.”- Jim F.
“Mr. Burton and his team go above and beyond in ensuring that your assets and future are protected and organized!”- Adrea J.
Learn About Your Legal Options
What estate planning documents should I have?A comprehensive estate plan should include the following documents, prepared by an attorney based on in-depth counseling which takes into account your particular family and financial situation:
A Living Trust can be used to hold legal title to and provide a mechanism to manage your property. You (and your spouse) are the Trustee(s) and beneficiaries of your trust during your lifetime. You also designate successor Trustees to carry out your instructions in case of death or incapacity. Unlike a will, a trust usually becomes effective immediately after incapacity or death. Your Living Trust is "revocable" which allows you to make changes and even to terminate it. One of the great benefits of a properly funded Living Trust is the fact that it will avoid or minimize the expense, delays, and publicity associated with probate.
If you have a Living Trust-based estate plan, you also need a pour-over will. For those with minor children, the nomination of a guardian must be set forth in a will. The other major function of a pour-over will is that it allows the executor to transfer any assets owned by the decedent into the decedent's trust so that they are distributed according to its terms.
A Will, also referred to as a Last Will and Testament, is primarily designed to transfer your assets according to your wishes. A Will also typically names someone to be your Executor, who is the person you designate to carry out your instructions. If you have minor children, you should also name a Guardian as well as alternate Guardians in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve. A Will only becomes effective upon your death, and after it is admitted by a probate court.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Property allows your agent to carry on your financial affairs in the event that you become disabled. Unless you have a properly drafted power of attorney, it may be necessary to apply to a court to have a guardian or conservator appointed to make decisions for you during a period of incapacitation. This guardianship process is time-consuming, expensive, emotionally draining and often costs thousands of dollars.
There are generally two types of durable powers of attorney: a present durable power of attorney in which the power is immediately transferred to your agent (also known as your attorney in fact); and a springing or future durable power of attorney that only comes into effect upon your subsequent disability as determined by your doctor. Anyone can be designated, most commonly your spouse or domestic partner, a trusted family member, or friend. Appointing an agent assures that your wishes are carried out exactly as you want them, allows you to decide who will make decisions for you, and is effective immediately upon subsequent disability.
The law allows you to appoint someone you trust to decide about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. You can do this by using a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or Health Care Proxy where you designate the person or persons to make such decisions on your behalf. You can allow your health care agent to decide about all health care or only about certain treatments. You may also give your agent instructions that he or she has to follow. Your agent can then ensure that health care professionals follow your wishes. Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow your agent's decisions as if they were your own.
A Living Will informs others of your preferred medical treatment should you become permanently unconscious, terminally ill, or otherwise unable to make or communicate decisions regarding treatment. In conjunction with other estate planning tools, it can bring peace of mind and security while avoiding unnecessary expense and delay in the event of future incapacity.
Some medical providers have refused to release information, even to spouses and adult children authorized by durable medical powers of attorney, on the grounds that the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, prohibits such releases. In addition to the above documents, you should also sign a HIPAA authorization form that allows the release of medical information to your agents, your successor trustees, your family and other people whom you designate.
How do I name a guardian for my children?If you have children under the age of eighteen, you should designate a person or persons to be appointed guardian(s) over their person and property. Of course, if a surviving parent lives with the minor children (and has custody over them), he or she automatically continues to remain their sole guardian. This is true despite the fact that others may be named as the guardian in your estate planning documents. You should name at least one alternate guardian in case the primary guardian cannot serve or is not appointed by the court.
What does my estate include?
Your estate is simply everything that you own, anywhere in the world, including:
- Your home or any other real estate that you own
- Your business
- Your share of any joint accounts
- The full value of your retirement accounts
- Any life insurance policies that you own
- Any property owned by a trust, over which you have a significant control
Why is it important to establish an estate plan?
Sadly, many individuals don’t engage in formal estate planning because they don’t think that they have “a lot of assets” or mistakenly believe that their assets will be automatically shared among their children upon their passing. If you don’t make proper legal arrangements for the management of your assets and affairs after your passing, the state’s intestacy laws will take over upon your death. This often results in the wrong people getting your assets as well as higher estate taxes.
If you pass away without establishing an estate plan, your estate would undergo probate, a public, court-supervised proceeding. Probate can be expensive and tie up the assets of the deceased for a prolonged period before beneficiaries can receive them. Even worse, your failure to outline your intentions through proper estate planning can tear apart your family as each person maneuvers to be appointed with the authority to manage your affairs. Further, it is not unusual for bitter family feuds to ensue over modest sums of money or a family heirloom.