The Law Office of
Suzan D. Herskowitz, P.L .L .C.
2971 Valley Avenue
Winchester, VA 22601
Licensed to practice in
Virginia, West Virginia,
Let Suzan D. Herskowitz help you with Wills, Trusts and Probate.
You do not have to be rich or young to have an estate. "Estate" is a legal term used to describe what you own. Estate planning is for individuals of any age and of any income level. It is the means by which you evaluate your wealth and determine how to preserve it for yourself as you grow older and then for your family after you have died. It is important to review your will or trust over the years and make changes when necessary.
A number of estate planning vehicles are available to facilitate your needs and goals. Wills and Trusts are the most common types of estate planning vehicles. A will is a document that takes effect upon your death. The purpose of the will is to direct the Commissioner or the probate court to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries as instructed in the will.
When you die without a will (intestate), the State has a will ready made for you. Unfortunately, the State's idea of who your beneficiaries are may be quite different from yours. Unless you hold all of your property jointly with right of survivorship, in a trust; or have designated a beneficiary, such as with life insurance, the only way to insure that your assets are distributed to those who are most important to you is to execute a will.
There are two types of trusts: Revocable living trusts and irrevocable trusts. A trust is an estate planning vehicle in which you, as trustor, transfer the ownership of your property to a trustee who then manages all of the property on your behalf.
Trusts have an advantage. Since all of the property is transferred to the trust when you die, little, if any of your property will need probate. The trustee can manage the property if you become incapacitated without having to be your guardian or conservator, insuring minimal involvement by the courts. Unlike wills, trusts are private documents and do not become public information (with limited exception). In some instances, a trust can even assist you in lessening the burden of estate taxes.
A living trust (revocable) takes effect while you are alive. During your lifetime you can be the trustee, unless you become incapacitated. When you die or become incapacitated, a successor trustee will continue the trust's management for as long as the trust's terms provide. You might want the trust to continue after your death to provide for your spouse, children or grandchildren. When those needs have been met, the trustee distributes the remaining trust property to your named trust beneficiaries.