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Wills, Trusts and 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. Their work encompasses all aspects of wills, trusts, and estates.

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 may 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.

Estate Planning

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

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. The attorneys at McCandlish & Lillard embrace a team approach in the area of asset protection and welcome the opportunity to work with your team of professionals to implement the most effective wealth preservation plan.

Trust Planning

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 (sometimes also referred to as an inter-vivos trust or 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. The attorneys at McCandlish & Lillard are knowledgeable in creating credit shelter trusts; generation skipping trusts (“GST”); irrevocable life insurance trusts (“ILIT”); charitable remainder trusts (“CRAT,” “CRUT,”); special needs trusts; pet trusts; equine trusts; qualified personal residence trusts (“QPRT”); qualified terminable interest property trusts (“QTIP”) and other types of trusts that may be used to achieve a variety of goals. Trust planning can be complex but it need not be daunting. The attorneys at McCandlish & Lillard can explain just which trust vehicles are suited to your situation and how best to integrate them into a comprehensive plan.

Estate/Trust Administration

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; are questioning 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.

Guardianship/Conservatorship Matters

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 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 your situation.

Estate/Trust Litigation

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.