Do You Need an Estate Plan?

Do You Need an Estate Plan?

In Virginia, an estate is considered to be all of an individual’s belongings, such as real estate assets, bank accounts, and other items that a person owns. When an individual passes away, these assets are normally inherited by family or other beneficiaries. An estate plan is created by the individual who owns the assets, and it is used to ensure the distribution of money and property according to the individual’s wishes. An estate plan can also predetermine who will manage the individual affairs should they become incapacitated and unable to do so for themselves.

What Makes Up an Estate Plan?

Establishing a solid estate plan is crucial to planning for your loved ones after you pass away. There are six basic components that are included within an estate plan. They are as follows:

The Will

Most people are familiar with the concept of a will. It is a written legal document that outlines your final wishes as to who you want to receive your property and other financial assets. It names an executor who oversees paying any final obligations the estate owes, as well as making sure that all assets are distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries.


A trust is established by an individual to hold assets for beneficiaries. The most common type of trust is a revocable trust in which assets can be placed and the terms of the trust altered, modified, changed, or even dissolved based on the wishes of the trust maker. Trusts have many legal advantages, as they can help your family avoid probate and having to pay estate taxes after you are gone. They also protect the beneficiaries’ privacy as they do not follow the same rules of having to be made public after assets have been distributed, as in the case of a will.

Power of Attorney

Also known as a POA, this is a legal document that authorizes another person to manage both your legal and financial affairs should you ever be unable to do so for yourself.

Health Care Directive

This component of an estate plan predetermines who will be your medical representative should you be unable to make decisions for yourself if you become incapacitated due to a medical condition. It also gives direction as to the type of healthcare measure that you wish to have in order to keep you alive or comfortable in the event of a grave injury or illness. The health care directive is only enforceable if you are not able to make and communicate your own wishes.

Beneficiary Designations

These are decisions that an individual makes in writing that specify your wishes concerning the disbursement of various aspects of their estate, such as that of life insurance policies, bank accounts, or other personal assets.

Regular Review and Revision

Because circumstances and other life situations can change over time, it is recommended that an individual review their estate plan annually. This annual review is necessary to assure that at the time of your death, all of the information is both current and up to date and that what is contained within the estate plan is still in accordance with your wishes.

If I Have Young Children, Do I Need an Estate Plan?

If you have children who are under the age of 18 years old, then yes, you should have an estate plan. Having an estate plan in place can allow you to authorize who will have legal custody of the children and where they will live in the event of your death. Having a properly prepared estate plan can also enable to you make provisions for your children in a will or through the establishment of a trust. If you were to pass away without making any decisions about what should happen to your children, other family members could have to go through a long and drawn-out legal process to gain custody of them.

Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney to Help Me?

As with any legal process, there is a tremendous amount of paperwork that has to be filled out, which can be very complicated and confusing. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer who has the knowledge and experience necessary to assist you. The attorneys at our law firm can help you create an estate plan that is customized to your specific needs and circumstances. Call our offices and schedule an appointment. We look forward to serving you.

Areas We Serve

With an office near Town Center, Virginia Beach and a second location beside the Chesapeake courthouse, our team provides quality legal representation across the entire Hampton Roads Area.

  • Virginia Beach
  • Hampton
  • Chesapeake
  • Newport News
  • Norfolk
  • Yorktown
  • Portsmouth
  • Accomack County
  • Suffolk
  • Northampton County

Parks Zeigler, PLLC – Attorneys At Law

Parks Zeigler, PLLC – Attorneys At Law N/a
4768 Euclid Road,
Suite 103

Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462
Map & Directions
524 Albemarle Drive,
Suite 200

Chesapeake, Virginia 23322
Map & Directions
200 N. Water Street,
Suite 2A

Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Map & Directions