Areas of Practice
When I meet with clients for estate planning, my number one priority is to create the most effective strategy to carry out the client's wishes at the best possible value.
I also always try to create a plan that is as simple and straightforward as possible. Individual plans usually start with wills, powers of attorney and advance medical directives. In addition, many, but not all, clients find that a trust is the best tool to keep assets out of probate or to manage assets for heirs who should not inherit money with “no strings attached”.
Every estate planning consultation includes suggestions to maximize the probate avoidance options of beneficiary designations, joint titling and “pay on death” or “transfer on death” contracts. Many clients also have questions about options for asset protection, including future Medicaid qualification strategies. We can fully explore all the options available depending on the client's circumstances.
Guardianship / Conservatorship to Safeguard Vulnerable Adults
I regularly represent families who are facing the challenge of having a loved one adjudicated to be legally incapacitated.
I guide families through the court process of having a guardian and conservator appointed and we can help with the court-ordered transfer of Virginia guardianships to other states or the acceptance by our courts of guardianship orders from other jurisdictions.
Strategies to Eliminate Probate
Every good estate plan should include a review of strategies to eliminate the need for probate.
Often my clients ask me if they need to create a trust to avoid probate. Sometimes a trust is the best tool for that job, but many times, a trust is not necessary. As part of every estate planning consultation we will discuss individual strategies, matched against the client's specific circumstances, to eliminate or at least minimize probate.
Assistance for Executors, Trustees and Heirs
My staff and I assist Executors and Trustees in fulfilling their duties under wills or trust agreements. Some executors or trustees need only a minimal amount of assistance, which we can provide with a consultation and a few follow up phone calls. Others, who are dealing with more complicated responsibilities, need greater support and services. We are happy to do as much or as little as the client requires.
There are times when heirs who are not serving as Executors need independent advice and counsel with regard to the way an estate is being handled. In these situations we are an experienced resource to review the situation. We can serve as that “second opinion” that heirs often need to understand the process or to exercise their legal rights during the estate administration process.