Monday, October 20, 2014

What To Do With Your Will

Having a will is a great thing, as I'm sure you've noticed from my previous posts.  However, getting that will drafted and signed is only half the battle.  Here's a few tips for what to do now that you have your will in hand.

1.  Find a safe place to keep it.
Take some time to think about your lifestyle and your family members' lifestyles and determine the best place to store your original will.  One place a lot of people think of but should probably NOT use is a safe deposit box.  If your family members are unable to access your safe deposit box without you, they will not be able to obtain the will if you pass away (same goes for your advanced medical directive and power of attorney).  You probably want to keep it somewhere safe, such as a an actual safe and want to keep in mind that it should be durable.  One potentially good option is to store it in a fireproof safe. 

2.  Make sure your family members know how to find it. 
Once you've determined where to store your will, you want to make sure your family members and/or anyone named in the will know how to access it.  If it is in a fire proof safe, does someone have the code to unlock the safe?  Do they know exactly where you store your fire proof safe?  Your will might not do you any good if no one can find it when it's time to use it. 

3. Give copies to all your family members.
It is often a good idea to give each family member or person who is named in the will a copy of your will.  This may come in handy should your will become lost or accidentally destroyed in the future.  In addition, it will make your wishes and desires less of a shock when the time comes to execute those wishes and desires. 

4.  Talk to your family members about your wishes.
It is usually a good idea to have a conversation with your loved ones about the wishes that you put in your will.  It may give you the opportunity to clear up any vague wishes and make sure your family is on the same page.  While the will gives your wishes and desires enforceability, it creates a calmer, more peaceful time for your family if they already know and understand exactly how you want things to happen. 

A will is a great tool to have for yourself and your family members.  However, taking the above listed actions ensures that your wishes are more understood and heightens the possibility that everything will happen smoothly and exactly as you wish. 

If you would like a consultation on a will or other estate planning documents, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

5 Things To Do After A Loved One Passes Away

In the weeks and months following the death of a loved one, you may be overwhelmed with what to do next.  It is difficult to deal with your emotions and the legal processes that need to be completed. Here's a list of a few things you may need to be taking care of after a loved one passes away. 

1.  Obtain the death certificate. 
You will need to obtain the death certificate for your loved one and most likely, you will need more than one.  The following people may require a death certificate: the court (where your loved one's property will be distributed through probate), the banks (for any joint bank accounts and/or safe deposit boxes), stock companies with whom your loved one held stock, etc.  While you can order additional death certificates in the future, it's a good idea to try to figure out about how many you will need and order them all at once. 

2.  Schedule an appointment with a probate and/or estate planning attorney. 
You will want to sit down with your attorney to go over the details of how your loved one's property is going to be distributed.  You should do this regardless of whether you will be the person administering the estate because you want to ensure your property rights will be protected as well.  An attorney will give you a basic idea of what the legal process will look like for you as the property is distributed over the coming months or years.

3.  Schedule an appointment with the probate court.
The first step to distributing property is to schedule an appointment with the probate court.  You will need to bring the original will, the death certificate and a check (for an amount the court will specify).  When you schedule your appointment, make sure you ask what all the court requires you to bring to the meeting so that you do not have to schedule a second meeting.

4.  Get organized. 
Going through probate, if you are administering the estate (i.e., making the distributions), you will need to have very detailed records of all property owned by your loved one, any property earned after your loved one's passing and any property distributed after your loved one's passing.  The sooner you get all of the property organized and have a method to maintain your records, the better off you will be in the long run.  This is something you may want to talk with your attorney about while you are doing #2 above. 

5.  Revisit your will, advanced medical directive and power of attorney.
When a close loved one passes away, it may affect your current estate plan.  If that person was designated as your power of attorney, you may want to have a new power of attorney drawn up so that it remains valid and in effect.  It may also effect your will and how your property is distributed, or more importantly, who will be taking care of your children should something happen to you.  

There is obviously much more that will likely need to be done; however, by doing these 5 things you should be headed in the right direction to obtain some closure and honor your loved one's wishes.  

If you have recently had a love one pass away and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

3 Things You Should Consider Including in Your Property Settlement Agreement

Hopefully during your divorce proceedings you and your soon to be ex-spouse will be able to come to an agreement on all aspects of the divorce: property distribution, child custody, support, etc.  If you are, then you (or hopefully, your attorney) will be drafting your property settlement agreement (also called a separation agreement).  Here are three things you should consider including in your agreement. 

1. Neither parent is to have overnight guests of the opposite sex while the child is in their care.
While this may sound unreasonable, it protects your children in a lot of ways.  The court may order this but if you are in the process of settling your divorce case this is something you and your soon to be ex-spouse should consider adding to your agreement. 

2. Neither parent is to consume alcohol or illegal drugs while the child is in their care. 
This may sound obvious but it is important to put in your agreement if you think there may be an issue with this.  You can add a similar provision that has whatever language you want - if you agree that it is okay to have a beer or glass of wine while the child is in your care, maybe you limit the language to illegal drugs.  Either way, this is a good idea to consider putting in your agreement.

3. Neither parent is to disparage the other in front of the children.
We all know everyone needs to vent every now and then and there is no problem with that.  There may be a problem, however, if it is done in front of the children.  Saying negative comments about the other parent when the children can hear can cause long term consequences and is generally not a good idea.  

These are important for a couple of reasons.  First, it opens the lines of communication to ensure you and your soon to be ex-spouse are actually on the same page and agree with how things will work from here on out.  Second, if one of those issues becomes a problem in the future, you now have a way to enforce those concepts through your agreement, rather than being forced to go to the court to modify the terms of the custody or visitation of your child, if applicable.  Even if you think these concepts are a given and you and your soon to be ex-spouse are definitely on the same page, if it is not in your agreement, it may not be enforceable in the future. 

If you are thinking about a divorce or going through a divorce and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.