Wills, Trusts & Estates

Attorneys in the Wills, Trust & Estates Practice work closely with you to identify strategies for protecting and preserving your assets for your loved ones, as well manage and plan for tax liability in the process.

McCandlish Lillard’s Wills, Trusts & Estates Practice can help you and your family plan for the disposition, distribution, and protection of your personal and, in many cases, business assets.  We work closely with you to identify strategies for protecting and preserving your assets for your loved ones, as well manage and plan for tax liability in the process.

Our work encompasses all aspects of wills, trusts, and estates.  Where disputes over estate plans, trusts, or testamentary documents rise to the level of court action or hearing before the Commissioner of Accounts, our Trust, Estate and Fiduciary Litigation Practice brings decades of experience to bear in representing your interests or the interests of the estate.


Your estate includes all of the property you own at the time of your death: retirement accounts, investment accounts, life insurance, primary residence, vacation property, rental property, business interests, vehicles and all other personal property.  Planning for the eventual disposition of these assets is not just for the wealthy but is something everyone should complete. While tax planning is important for larger estates, it is just one of the factors to consider in the estate planning process.

The attorneys at McCandlish Lillard can guide you through the process of determining appropriate guardians for your children, providing sufficient liquidity to the estate, avoiding probate, protecting beneficiaries from creditors, staging distributions to benefit minor or irresponsible beneficiaries, ensuring all members of a blended family receive intended gifts, reducing or eliminating estate and inheritance taxes and marshaling relevant information for your survivors.


Asset protection planning can be an integral part of the estate planning process. The attorneys at McCandlish Lillard can advise on the applicability of a variety of asset protection tools including self-settled trusts, liability limitation strategies and appropriate insurance vehicles. McCandlish Lillard embraces a team approach in working with clients, and welcomes the opportunity to work with your team of professionals to implement the most effective wealth preservation plan.


A trust is an agreement that transfers possession and management of assets to a trustee and may be utilized in planning to accomplish everything from probate avoidance to multi-generational distribution of wealth. A living trust (also referred to as a revocable trust) is often preferred by those who want to avoid the delays and fees associated with the probate process and who want to retain privacy.

You are not required to file a living trust with the courts or any other agency whereas a will becomes part of the public record when it is submitted to probate. Living trusts can also provide peace of mind knowing that there will be a seamless transition of management if you are suddenly unable to manage your affairs.

There are many other types of trusts that may become part of a well-planned estate depending on your specific circumstances, including:

  • Credit Shelter/Family Trusts
  • Marital Trusts
  • Trusts for Minor Children or Grandchildren
  • Generation Skipping Transfer (“GST”) Exempt Trusts
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (“ILIT”)
  • Dynasty Trusts
  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (“GRATs”)
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts (“CRTs”) and Charitable Lead Trusts (“CLTs”)
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts
  • Pet Trusts
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (“QPRTs”)

Trust planning can be complex, but it need not be daunting. The attorneys at McCandlish Lillard can explain which trust vehicles are suited to your situation and how best to integrate them into a comprehensive plan.


Serving as a fiduciary and administering an estate or trust in Virginia can be an incredibly complex undertaking.  In order to serve, an individual may have to qualify before the Circuit Court, post a bond, account for assets under his or her control, file accountings with the Commissioner of Accounts, file the necessary tax documents, pay proper debts and expenses, and deal with creditors and beneficiaries.

The attorneys at McCandlish Lillard can provide the assistance necessary to guide a fiduciary in the proper administration of an estate or trust.  Whether you are experiencing difficulties in qualifying as a fiduciary, have received exception letters from the Commissioner of Accounts, need help with the interpretation of a will or trust, or are generally seeking assistance on how to properly serve as an executor or trustee, the attorneys at McCandlish Lillard can offer the help you need.


Guardianships and Conservatorships are judicially established relationships between an incapacitated person and a fiduciary that is empowered and obligated to look after the incapacitated person’s well-being.  Generally, guardians and conservators have control over the disabled individual’s decision-making ability and finances.  The creation of a guardianship or conservatorship may be necessary for an elderly or incapacitated family member or a child with special needs.

Dealing with these situations can be incredibly stressful, and the legal complexities, accounting obligations and fiduciary requirements can often add to the frustration.  Whether you are already a qualified conservator or guardian or are concerned about a loved one’s ability to care for themselves or are looking for planning techniques to avoid a conservator or guardian situation, the attorneys at McCandlish Lillard have the necessary skills and experience to help with your situation.


Irrespective of the amount of planning or the intentions of an individual, disputes can, and often do, arise among fiduciaries, beneficiaries, and claimants during the administration of an estate or trust.  Often times such disputes can be resolved with skillful negotiation, but other times, judicial intervention is necessary and attorneys in our Trust, Estate and Fiduciary Litigation Practice  can help.


For resources related to estate planning, including recordings of webinars offered by our team, visit our Wills, Trusts & Estates Resources page.