Considering an estate plan in Virginia? These tips can help.

Virginians can benefit from these tips to help increase their odds of a more successful estate plan.

Regardless of one's wealth, age or current health status an estate plan is always beneficial. Estate plans can vary from fairly simple to extremely complex depending on the maker's wishes. In any case, the following tips can help to better ensure a more successful estate plan:

Virginia estate planning: The basics.

Generally, estate plans are composed of a will, living will, advanced healthcare directive and powers of attorney documents.

  • Will. A will explains the division of assets and property.
  • Living will. This document is used to provide direction for health care decisions in the event that the maker is incapacitated. This could happen in a variety of circumstances - such as a car accident or other unexpected event that has left the maker unconscious - and is beneficial to every estate plan regardless of the maker's age and current health status.
  • Advanced healthcare directive. An advanced healthcare directive allows for the appointment of another individual to make healthcare decision on the maker's behalf in the event the maker is incapable of making informed decisions.
  • Power of attorney documents. These documents can be used to appoint individuals to make financial decisions on the maker's behalf.

These are just the basic documents used to make up an estate plan. Since an estate plan is unique to each situation, the exact documents will vary with each individual plan.

Virginia estate planning: Exemptions and exclusions.

An estate plan can take advantage of tax savings in a number of ways. One example involves the use of exemptions. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal covered this issue, noting the benefits of the estate tax exemption. The estate tax exemption allows the maker to transfer assets up to $5.43 million in 2015 without having to pay a federal estate tax. In some states, an additional state estate tax may be applied. In most cases, there is no estate tax applied to these transfers for Virginia estates.

The federal gift tax exclusion allows the annual tax free transfer of up to $14,000 in assets per individual. Using this gift tax exclusion can help reduce the giver's taxable income.

Virginia estate planning: An attorney can help.

These are just a few of the tips that can help both better ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes and help you take advantage of potential tax savings. It is also important to note that the laws governing estate planning often change. As a result, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced Virginia wills and trusts attorney. This legal professional can tailor an estate plan to better reflect your needs.

Keywords: estate planning