Montgomery, Kelley, & McKinnon, P.L.C. - Estate Planning

Estate Planning

An AARP report indicates that only 60% of individuals over age 50 have wills. Only 45% of these people have durable powers of attorney and only 30% have advance medical directives. 100% of these individuals more than likely need all three estate planning documents. Of those that have a comprehensive estate plan, the vast majority have not reviewed their plans in years.

An estate plan that incorporates an additional document, a revocable trust, can in many situations have added benefits and advantages. Revocable trusts offer particular advantage when one’s estate is or will be subject to federal estate taxes; wherein one desires upon one’s death, to provide for a spouse who is not the mother or father of one’s children and at the same time to assure that funds not needed by the surviving spouse ultimately pass to one’s children or grandchildren; when one wants upon one’s death to avoid the probate process with its associated costs, fees, taxes, and potential delays; and when one wants to provide for some type of investment management and administrative help for a surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren.

Still other trust arrangements can protect assets from a beneficiary’s creditors, provide management for an incompetent beneficiary, a beneficiary under some other type of disability, a beneficiary’s educational needs, or simply a beneficiary who needs spendthrift guidance.

Of primary importance in any estate plan is the individual, banking institution, or trust company you choose to carry out your wishes upon your death or incapacity. The fiduciary you choose may act as an executor, trustee, or agent depending on the estate planning vehicle under which they act. In every case the fiduciary should be experienced in money management matters, capable of exercising sound judgment, and above all trustworthy.

Any type of estate plan should be periodically reviewed, particularly if one moves from one state to another, family situations change, financial assets increase or decrease in values, and one’s desires as to ultimate disposition of assets or wishes as to healthcare arrangements change.

Montgomery, Kelley, & McKinnon, P.L.C. provides the following services in relation to Estate Planning:

  1. Wills
  2. Powers of Attorney
  3. Medical Directives

Wills

There are numerous benefits to having a will. Some of the most common benefits include, securing your estate’s distribution in accordance with your wishes, naming your fiduciaries and beneficiaries - those who carry out your wishes as pertaining to your estate, and how your dependents will be cared for if the unfortunate should happen. Virginia law states that if an individual dies without a will, their estate will be distributed according to Virginia’s distribution system.

Powers of Attorney

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There are several different types of powers of attorney. These include: a general power of attorney, a specific power of attorney and a medical power of attorney. The following briefly explains each:

General Power of Attorney: An instrument in writing whereby an individual (the principal) appoints another individual as his/her agent or attorney-in-fact and bestows authority to perform broad and encompassing acts on behalf of the principal.

Specific Power of Attorney: An instrument in writing whereby an individual appoints another individual to act on his/her behalf in a limited capacity, such as giving an individual the authority to write checks from another’s account.

Medical Power of Attorney: An instrument in writing whereby an individual appoints another individual their agent to make medical decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated.

Medical Directive (“Living Will”)

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This document is often referred to as a “Living Will”. The living will allows for the withdrawal of life sustaining medical procedures in the event an individual suffers from an incurable injury, disease or illness and has no reasonable chance of recovery.

Please note, Montgomery, Kelley, & McKinnon, P.L.C., provides “Sweetheart Wills” (for husbands and wives), which includes: Wills, Powers of Attorney and Medical Directives for both parties at a discounted rate.

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