West Virginia Estate Planning & Litigation Lawyers
Work with a Leading Estate Planning Firm. We Have Offices in Beckley, Charleston & Lewisburg.
Many people believe estate planning is only for the very wealthy due to their many and varied assets and investments. However, this is far from true. Everyone who owns anything has an “estate.” Your estate is made up of your home, your car, your bank accounts, life insurance, any other real property, stock portfolio, any other investments, your furniture, your personal belongings, and more. Your estate is as individual and unique as you are and your unique wishes as to how you wish it to be passed on after you are gone need to be documented. Without such documentation, it will be distributed according to state law by a probate judge who has never met you and has no idea what you would have wanted.
Documenting in advance how you wish your estate to be settled is called estate planning. It is planning in advance that provides specific instructions that put you in control of this matter even when you are no longer there to be consulted. At Wooton, Davis, Hussell & Johnson, PLLC, our legal team of competent and well-respected estate planners can inform, guide, and counsel you on estate planning methods and instruments that will provide you with an optimum plan. Our firm is a leader in estate planning and litigation in the state. We have helped countless clients achieve their goals in creating sound plans that protect their heirs and beneficiaries in this critical matter.
Estate Planning Basics in West Virginia
Utilizing all of the estate planning tools at our disposal, our West Virginia estate planning attorneys can put together a tailored estate plan for you and your loved ones.
Estate planning tools can include:
- Wills. These are called a “last will and testament” that state how you wish your assets and property to be distributed to your named heirs and beneficiaries. It can include how and when you wish these individuals receive these distributions as well as name an executor to administer your will. It can also name a guardian for your minor children and the estate you leave them. You will goes into effect upon your passing.
- Living wills. Unlike a will, living wills go into effect while you are alive. These documents outline your wishes as to what type of medical treatments you wish to have or not have should you become incapacitated and unable to express your wishes. This can include any life-prolonging interventions at end-of-life situations. These are also called advance health directives.
- Trusts. These are separate legal entities into which you place your property and assets with instructions as to how you wish those assets to be passed on after your death by your named trustee. These may be revocable or irrevocable and can be set up for various purposes.
- Living trusts. These are revocable trusts that you manage while you are alive for the benefit of yourself and your beneficiaries. Upon your passing, your named successor trustee administers your instructions for the transfer of your estate to your beneficiaries.
- Powers of Attorney. These documents authorize a trusted person to make decisions and act on your behalf when you are incapacitated or out of the country. Your authorized “agent” will be granted the power to handle general or limited matters as stated in the document. These matters can include life affairs such as banking and other financial and property matters, filing taxes, handling motor vehicle issues, signing legal documents, and more.
- Medical Powers of Attorney. These documents authorize a trusted person to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are no longer able to express your wishes.
Benefits of Estate Planning
Proper estate planning provides many benefits. These include minimizing the expense, time, and stress of probate, reducing estate and other taxes, easing the worry and burden on your family as to your wishes in terms of estate distribution and medical care and decisions, providing financial support for your favorite causes or charities, providing for the care of disabled children or other family members, and even planning for your business succession. Without specifying your wishes for these issues, your estate may be left open to state probate mandates, conflict among heirs and other parties, and loss of estate asset resources through burdensome taxes or litigation.
To understand your options and to organize an estate plan customized to your needs, we advise that you turn to a West Virginia estate planning lawyer at our firm. Take advantage of the experience and skill we bring to this important and valuable issue.
Call Wooton, Davis, Hussell & Johnson, PLLC at (304) 407-2249to arrange to speak to an attorney today or fill out our online contact formto get a quick response. Our offices are located in Lewisburg, Beckley and Charleston for your convenience.