estate plan

What Should (Almost) Every Estate Plan Include?

We provide estate planning services because we believe that forming a good estate plan is an essential task for everyone to undertake. We want to help you form a plan that covers the contingencies that may occur in life—within reason. After all, it only makes sense to ensure that you will be adequately taken care of if you should become incapacitated and that when you pass, your assets are distributed to whom you prefer in the way that you want so that your descendants may benefit from your forethought. So, in broad terms, we feel that (almost) every estate plan should include the following.

  • A Medical Power of Attorney (also known as an “Advance Medical Directive”) – These legal documents ensure that the person you would like making your healthcare decisions should you become incapacitated is the one who is permitted to do so.

  • A Living Will (also called “End of Life Instructions”) – This is a statement that is frequently included in your Medical Power of Attorney and describes your wishes in the case of terminal illness or persistent vegetative state (colloquially speaking, being a coma), when you are unable to communicate—particularly as to what forms of life-support or medical interventions you may wish for (or against).

  • A Trust – These legal entities are permitted to own your assets, whether you are still living or among the departed, and may be managed according to your express instructions. These have many uses. Most common among them are avoidance of probate (court-supervised distribution of a deceased person’s assets) and arranging how the assets are used to benefit descendants through the course of their lives. There are also specialized trusts that can protect your assets during your lifetime from your creditors or Medicaid Long Term Care spenddowns.

  • A Last Will and Testament – The “big kahuna” of estate planning. If a person does nothing else for their estate at death, they should at very least make a will. These are, essentially, legally enforceable descriptions of your wishes regarding what should be done with your possessions after you die. If you don’t leave a will, the Virginia probate courts will determine who gets what according to a set of probate laws. If you have step-children whom you would like to receive something, they probably won’t unless you include them in a will. It’s essential to draw up a will after you get married, and to revise it when you divorce, when you have a child, or when someone who would have benefitted from it passes away before you do. In fact, there are more reasons to form a will than we can cover here. But we can help you do it.

Let Us Help You Create an Estate Plan

If you are interested in making your plan for the future, attend one of Promise Law’s free estate planning workshops. These workshops provide a great foundation of information that everyone needs to make sound estate planning decisions. Moreover, if you attend a workshop, you also get a complimentary one-on-one consultation with one of our attorneys.


Join us for a workshop to learn more about how to address your legal needs.
We offer complimentary consultations for all areas of practice. Contact us today.