Estate Planning FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Shin Law Office Estate Planning Experts Answer Frequently Asked Questions

Estate Planning can be as simple or as complex as the person whose wishes it embodies.

That’s why it is important to consult a Shin Law Office Estate Planning Expert at your earliest convenience to make sure all of your wishes are memorialized and legally binding. An estate plan ensures you leave nothing to chance when those you love try to live out your final wishes.

Below, the Shin Law office Estate Planning Experts answer some of the most frequently asked questions about estate planning. If you have additional questions, set up a no-cost consultation with us and we will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Q: How do I know if I need an estate plan? Why is this important?

Everyone needs an estate plan! This isn’t often said about legal matters, but estate planning is absolutely necessary. Without an estate planning document, everything you worked all your life for could be washed away through legal processes and lost to the county, instead of having everything being passed to your family and friends.

Q: What is a trust?

A trust is a document that creates a relationship with another person (let’s say, “John”), that allows John to hold on to assets for another individual (let’s say, “Sally – your daughter”). Trusts are usually not subject to probate, which means you receive greater savings on the assets within the trust.

Q: What is a 'simple' estate plan?

A simple estate plan is usually a plan for individuals that do not have a substantial amount of assets and accounts (usually less than 1 million dollars).

Q: What is a living will and why do I need one?

A living will (not to be confused with a revocable/irrevocable trust) is a document that addresses life preserving issues in the event you require life support. A living will becomes when you are not able to make decisions on your own.

Q: What components make up an estate plan?

Typically a will, trust and an advanced medical directive. More complex estate planning documents include trusts.

Q: Why does an attorney have to do my estate plan?

Because an attorney will be able to help you navigate through the process to ensure your estate plan is made personal to your circumstance. This is critical as boilerplate estate planning documents often address contingencies that have no relevance to your goals and wishes.

Q: What happens in Virginia if I don't have an estate plan?

All your assets will be distributed according to the Virginia code instead of according to your wishes.

Q: I already have life insurance. Why do I need an estate plan?

Life insurance typically has a beneficiary clause that will take the distributions out of probate. An estate planning document is still necessary because the life insurance policy will not address any other assets or issues outside of the specific issue of life insurance.

Q: I really don't have anything. Why do I need an estate plan?

Because you never know when you will get things in the future.

Q: If I have an estate plan, what happens if someone doesn’t agree with it or doesn’t think it is fair?

An estate planning document is a reflection of what your desires are. What others believe about your document becomes largely irrelevant.

Q: Can a beneficiary in my estate plan dispute it?

Yes, he/she can, however, if you create an estate planning document and execute it in the appropriate manner, then disputing the distributions become nearly impossible to challenge.

Q: Can a person who is not in my estate plan dispute it?

No, unless there is some argument that the individual should have standing as a beneficiary in a designated class and then argue some type of capacity issue at the time you executed your document.

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