TATE BYWATER Law has been serving the regions of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. for nearly 50 years, having been founded by James R. Tate and Douglas E. Bywater all the way back in 1972. Why should you care about how long TATE BYWATER has been providing clients with exceptional estate planning? We are glad you asked. The bottom line is that any law practice that has been around for such a significant amount of time is doing something right. If you are wondering what kind of experience most customers have at Tate Bywater, check out our recent post where we explored what our clients are saying about us. It’s great to read how much we have been able to positively affect our community by providing exceptional service and expertise that Fairfax County and Prince William County have grown to depend upon. But we do more than merely estate planning, wills and trusts at TATE BYWATER Law. Here is a listing of our wide range of practice areas:
- Business and Corporate Law
- Civil Litigation
- Criminal and Traffic
- Family Law
- Healthcare Provider
- Immigration Attorney
- Personal Injury Lawyer
- Qui Tam: Whistleblower
- Real Estate
- Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning
Keep in mind that we don’t simply list this variety of practice areas without being able to back up our promises of expertise. We are passionate about helping you find justice by providing knowledgeable counsel and trusted advice. To that end, in today’s post we will be highlighting our wills, trusts, and estate planning practice area. Specifically, we want to address some of the more common mistakes that we see citizens make, both with and without legal counsel. Hopefully, a portion of our readership will be able to use some of these tips in the future which will help the ultimate outcome of for issues including:
- Wills & Trusts including “Living Trusts,” Advanced Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney
- Care of minor children / guardianship
- Protection / re-titling of assets
- Divorce and child custody issues
- Designation of executors / beneficiaries
TATE BYWATER is committed to providing legal counsel in order to formulate and implement a legally sound estate plan which is aimed at accomplishing the following goals:
- Avoid excessive taxation
- Distribute your property and assets according to your wishes
- Assign persons responsible for the care of minor children
- Avoid issues in probate between family members
Let’s begin exploring common mistakes that the inexperienced tend to make when it comes to wills, trusts, and estate planning attorneys.
No Estate Plan
Let’s start with the fundamentals, which in this case means formulating an estate plan itself. But let’s go beyond the surface level. Many people believe that once they reach a certain age, at that point it will be appropriate to get in touch with an estate lawyer and put together an estate plan. At the risk of sounding an alarm, everyone is mortal, and that includes you and I. With that in mind, if you fail to designate how you would prefer your assets to be distributed, the state statute holds precedence. Often, this is far removed from how most people would prefer their estate to be divided. And while it does make sense that it can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, planning your estate is also a necessary one. It is part of coming face to face with reality, and for the greater good of your loved ones it is worth taking the first step, no matter if you are forty, fifty, or beyond.
Not Updating Your Estate Plan
Akin to not having a plan in the first place, the sister sin right next to that is the failure to keep an updated estate plan ready to go with your estate planning attorney. This failure can have tangible consequences, which may include avoidable additional taxes, familial strife because of confusion, and quite possibly, wrongful distribution of your estate. Here are a few examples of potential circumstances which merit a meeting with your estate lawyer:
- Acquisition of land
- Death of a supposed beneficiary
- Birth of a new child or grandchild
- Change of law (we will help notify you of this one)
- Relocation to an alternate state
Your Will or Trust is a Secret
This point is in the same family as the first two common mistakes we have mentioned thus far, in the sense that we see people make this mistake for no other reason than the simple fact that it can be uncomfortable to think and speak of. As much fun as it would be to imagine your extended family gathering ala “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (that actually sounds horrifying), estate planners typically will recommend being as communicative as possible with your affected relatives. The reason for this recommendation is that you can have a say in any disagreements that may unfortunately arise. However, if you prefer to avoid any sort of difficult conversation altogether, it may be best to be more discreet with those family members who might be difficult to deal with. The bottom line is that it ultimately is up to you, because no one knows how your family will react to this type of news better than you do.
A Lack Of Understanding
It may come as a surprise to many of our readers that simply because you have a working understanding of how your will is going to be distributed, it follows that you have a complete comprehension of how all of your assets will be divided upon your passing. Specifically, a client’s wealth is often found in a variety of asset types, from real estate, to annuity funds, retirement plans, to insurance policies. Luckily, this problem is very much avoidable, and the estate attorneys at TATE BYWATER are happy to assist our clientele with these conversations so they can determine the best course of action for them and their family.
Accidentally Losing Control Of Your Estate
While this mistake, in theory, borders on the cinematic, it still happens more often than you might think. For a variety of reasons people are added as controllers on bank accounts all of the time. But the act of adding someone’s name to an account may inadvertently give that person control over more than you had intended. And even if you trust this person implicitly, large sums of money brings out the worst in people and their decision making capability. If you find yourself in the circumstance that you no longer feel comfortable independently managing your own assets, TATE BYWATER can help you draft and implement a plan so that you feel more financially secure and supported. So we implore you to not be that person who simply assumes that the worst case scenario will never happen to them. Consider your options and make an informed decision.
While this list of common mistakes and (ideally) helpful tips is far from exhaustive, we hope that it has been a helpful article that has gotten some of your estate planning juices flowing, as it were. Remember that if you need any legal advice concerning wills, trusts, estate planning, or one of our other practices areas, we are only a phone call away. We will help you from the first steps to ongoing administration of the estate. We are willing and able to help with:
- Probate administration
- Trust administration
- Will administration
- Asset inventories and accountings
- Guardianships and conservatorships
- Financial and medical powers of attorney
- Will disputes and fiduciary litigation
With offices in Vienna, VA and Saint Leonard, MD, we would love to set up a consultation with you so we can explore your situation and options in detail. Reach out to us today.
Our jurisdictions of practice include the following regions and cities: Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Ashburn, Burke, Calvert County, Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, District of Columbia, Dulles, Fairfax County, Falls Church, Great Falls, Herndon, Leesburg, Loudoun County, Manassas, Manassas Park, McLean, Montgomery County, Oakton, Prince George’s County, Prince William County, Reston, South Riding, Springfield, Stafford, Sterling, Vienna, and Woodbridge.