The world noted Aretha Franklin’s recent passing with sadness as well as fond memories of her amazing talent and career. The news following her death, as reported by CNN, that she died without a will or trust, brought different discussions to the forefront.
For many different reasons, individuals and business entities can find it beneficial to conduct business under a name other than their legal name. Such names are known in Virginia as fictitious or assumed names, and they are often identified with the individual or business entity’s legal name followed by an abbreviation such as “t/a” (“trading as”) or “dba” (“doing business as”).
Over the years, many clients, neighbors, friends, and family members have asked me what would happen to their assets if they were to die without a Will. Some people believe that if they die without a Will, their assets would become the property of the state in which they live. In fact, this belief is a misconception in all but the most limited circumstances.
In Virginia, most people’s estates are probated in the city or county in which they lived at the time of their death. For Virginia residents who pass away owning real estate outside of Virginia, probate matters can be significantly more involved.
Deciding what to do with your assets after you pass away can involve a series of difficult decisions. These decisions are made even more difficult when one of your loved ones struggles with addiction or mental health issues.
Upon completing their estate planning, clients often ask how often they will need to update their Wills and other estate planning documents in the future. While there is no set amount of time that applies to every client’s personal situation, a good rule of thumb is to review one’s Will at least every two to three years to ensure the Will still reflects one’s wishes.
Clients who are appointed to handle a loved one’s estate often feel overwhelmed upon the death of their loved one. The probate process can seem complicated and daunting, especially when grieving. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about probate, and some guidance in response to those questions.