Articles

Estate Planning – Document Basics

By Attorney Jennifer Kahl September 24, 2019 What does it mean to “do your estate planning?” What does it mean to “do your estate planning?” Many people have this on their to-do list, but are unsure of what it actually means. In short, “estate planning” refers to the...

Virginia Probate – Estate and Gift Taxes

By Attorney Jennifer Kahl September 19, 2019 Many people are concerned about the potential of the “estate tax.” However, the vast majority of estates will not owe any estate tax. The Unified Tax Credit The Unified Tax Credit is the amount that each person can gift...

Helpful Info – Beware of Scams!

By Attorney Robert T. Brooks      August 21, 2019 In the last 2 days I have personally received mail from a scam group and had two clients tell me about scam phone calls they have received.  In today’s world you must be suspicious of almost every piece of mail, email,...

Virginia Probate – Shortcuts for Small Estates

By Attorney Jennifer Kahl, August 19, 2019 When a person dies, the first step in the administration of the estate is the calculation of the probate estate. Depending on the size of the probate estate, you may be able to avoid opening a formal probate estate. Virginia...

Helpful Info – Legal Answers vs. Practical Answers

BY ATTORNEY SUSAN I. JEAN August 16, 2019 When discussing medical decision-making, I often explain to clients that there are situations where the legal answer is not the way things actually work.  A classic example is end of life decision-making.  Imagine...

Virginia Probate – Inheriting Real Estate

By Attorney Jennifer Kahl, August 12, 2019 What happens to real estate in Virginia when someone dies? It depends on how the real estate was titled and whether the person had a will. The titling of real estate If a person owns real estate as tenants by the entirety or...

Helpful Info – Why am I left in the waiting room?

BY ATTORNEY SUSAN I. JEAN July 19, 2019 It is common that family members will come with a loved one to a legal consultation.  Attorneys are scary (no, not really), the situation is concerning, you want to be sure your loved one correctly explains the situation...

Virginia Probate – The Laws of Intestacy

By Attorney Jennifer Kahl, July 16, 2019 What happens when a person dies without a Last Will and Testament? This is called dying “intestate.” The distribution of such an estate is governed by the Virginia’s laws of intestacy. What property is subject to the intestacy...

Estate Planning – Selecting your Fiduciary

By Attorney Robert T. Brooks July 3, 2019 Who should manage your funds?  The answer is simple… it should be you or a responsible individual/entity of your choosing.  I recently drafted a Trust and other estate planning documents for a client.  Per my...

Helpful Info – Just Walk Away

BY ATTORNEY SUSAN I. JEAN June 28, 2019 As an attorney my job usually is giving advice of what should be done.  But sometimes my best advice is to just walk away from a situation.  I met with a potential client recently.  She is very upbeat and funny,...

Virginia Probate – Titles of the Personal Representative

By Attorney Jennifer Kahl, June 25, 2019 The term “personal representative” refers to the individual(s) or entity which has been appointed by the court to manage the estate of a deceased person. “Personal representative” is a general term; the specific title of each...

Virginia Probate – Who is the Commissioner of Accounts?

By Attorney Jennifer Kahl, June 18, 2019 After consulting with an experienced estate administration attorney, you have determined that it is necessary to open a formal probate estate (click here for a basic calculation). You have started the process by qualifying as...

THLG News – Read about Attorney Jean’s Daughter, Lindsey

BY ATTORNEY SUSAN I. JEAN June 14, 2019 On a personal note, my daughter Lindsey is an animal handler in Florida at Jungle Friends Animal Sanctuary.  She was recently featured on their website, and I’m proud to share her video. ...

Virginia Probate – Consequences of Joint Ownership

By Attorney Jennifer Kahl, June 10, 2019 When someone dies, the first step is to identify the decedent’s assets and determine how the assets are titled. The title of the assets plays a big role in determining the administration of the estate. Most people do not...

Estate Planning – Pet Trusts Revisited

BY ATTORNEY SUSAN I. JEAN We love our fur-babies and they love us back … We spoil our fur-babies and they spoil us back … We protect our fur-babies … and sometimes they protect us back…  Being a responsible pet parents includes the responsibility to plan for our pets ...

Estate Planning – Are you Too Young To Have a Will?

By Attorney Robert T. Brooks June 6, 2019 Many people ask me, “when should I create a Will”.  My answer is as long as you are 18 years of age and of sound mind, you should have a Will.  Many people procrastinate and do not put a Will in place until later in...

Estate Planning – Get it Done Now!

BY ATTORNEY SUSAN I. JEAN Son came to see me about his mother.  She lives in the memory assist unit of a local assisted living facility.  And no one had talked with her about doing Powers of Attorney.  No one had talked with Son about how difficult...

Estate Planning – Are You Ready for Motorcycle Weather?

By Attorney Robert T. Brooks May 29, 2019 The cold weather has diminished, and we are now left with perfect motorcycle riding weather.  Typical motorcycle owners will make sure their bike is cleaned, properly tuned, and safe for the roads.  Purchasing a nice...

THLG News – Three Generations of Representation

BY ATTORNEY SUSAN I. JEAN Yesterday a gentleman came into the office.  He had questions regarding how best to take care of his mother.  I recognized his mother’s name.  I did indeed represent his mother in her estate planning.  And in fact, I...

Estate Planning – Why Can’t I Just Write My Own Will?

BY ATTORNEY SUSAN I. JEAN I was sitting across the conference table from an older lady (“Clara” for purposes of this Article, not her real name) who has a very simple situation.  She has three children and wants her estate to go to the three of them...

Virginia Medicaid – Dealing with Timeshares

BY ATTORNEY SUSAN I. JEAN The saying about boats is: the happiest day of a boat owner’s life is when he or she takes the new boat out on the water.  The second happiest day of a boat owner’s life is when he or she sells the boat.  The same is often true of...

THLG News – Spring Fever

By Susan I. Jean So often we focus on the bad and ignore the good. We've (basically) survived another winter; spring is in the air. Daffodils are blooming, trees are just starting to get that spring green we love. Mark Twain, always favorite, perhaps said it best......

Estate Planning – What is a Beneficiary Designation?

By Attorney Jennifer Kahl, February 25, 2019 To put it succinctly, a beneficiary designation is a contractual agreement between you and the custodian of your asset that dictates where your asset will go when you die. Now, let’s take that statement apart piece by...

Virginia Medicaid – Unclaimed Property

Medicaid Tip of the Week:  Unclaimed Property By Attorney Susan I. Jean on February 14, 2019   We (or our parents and sometimes their parents) may take out life insurance policies over the years.  But it is easy to lose track of these old...

Virginia Probate – Overview of Administering a Formal Probate Estate

by Attorney Jennifer Kahl on Monday, January 28, 2019 After consulting with an experienced estate administration attorney, you have determined that it is necessary for you to open a formal probate estate. (Click here to see if it's necessary to open a formal probate...

Virginia Medicaid – How Does Medicaid Treat Life Insurance?

By Attorney Susan I. Jean on Friday,  January 25, 2019 One of the most common reasons for a long-term care Medicaid denial is life insurance with cash value.  We don’t think of life insurance when we think about what we own.  We don’t think of life insurance when we...

Estate Planning – What is a Power of Attorney and Why Do I Need One?

By Attorney Robert T. Brooks on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 We all like to think that we will remain healthy and capable of handling our own affairs.  But what happens when the unexpected accident occurs, and your family is left dealing with the aftermath?  Who can...

Virginia Probate – Calculating the Probate Estate

By Attorney Jennifer D. Kahl on Monday, January 14, 2019 People often use the term “probate assets” to refer to any assets owned by a person when the person dies. However, in Virginia, only certain assets belong in the probate estate. Use the following analysis to...

Virginia Medicaid – Transferring a Home to a Sibling

By Susan I. Jean, Attorney at Law, Certified Elder Law Attorney Although seldom used, an interesting exception to the Medicaid “five-year rule” is that a home may be transferred from a Medicaid applicant to a sibling of the applicant who has resided in the home for at...

Virginia Probate – Rights of the Surviving Spouse

By Attorney Jennifer D. Kahl on December 10, 2018 If your spouse has died you are probably experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. This are even more stressful if you are concerned about your rights to your spouse’s assets. It is not uncommon for creditors, children, or...

Helpful Info – “Tidying Up” Your Affairs

By Attorney Susan I. Jean on December 7, 2018 In this season, we often resolve to tidy up our personal affairs.  As part of this process, please consider whether you have up to date, complete and thoughtful estate planning documents.  This, as much as any other, is a...

Helpful Info – What to do With a Dementia Diagnosis

By Attorney Robert T. Brooks on December 5, 2018 Receiving a diagnosis of dementia is not only devastating for the person receiving that news, but also their family members.  Many Virginia residents have misconceptions about dementia that can lead to more fear or...

Helpful Info – Online Safety Tips

By Attorney Susan I. Jean on November 30, 2018 This morning I heard of the apparent breach of the Marriott data system.  Possibly over 500 million folks’ data is at risk. I don’t want this to happen to The Heritage Law Group friends and families. I’m not a computer...

Estate Planning – Who Should I Pick as my Executor?

Choosing the person who will be your executor is an important decision. You want to make sure that you pick someone who is trustworthy, conscientious, and hardworking. What does an Executor do? After you die, your executor will perform a number of services,...

Estate Planning – Pet Trusts

My daughters will swear that our dog, Maggie, actually raised them.  I still have pictures of them rolling Maggie around in a baby buggy; poor Maggie!  For many of us, our pets are family.  In fact, in the United States, there are four pets for every child.  For many...

Virginia Probate – Tips for a New Executor

By Attorney Jennifer D. Kahl on November 17. 2017 Congratulations! Dad trusted you and selected you to be the executor of his estate. But now, Dad has passed away and you are up to your ears in funeral arrangements, bills, and siblings pestering you for their...

Virginia Medicaid – Caregiver Burnout? There is Help!

In my practice, I counsel caregiver spouses and caregiver children; people who are caring for loved ones with dementia.  One fact has become obvious to me:  Caregivers do the very best they can.   Most embrace the caregiving challenge.  Someone they love needs them...

Virginia Medicaid – Why Consult an Attorney About Medicaid?

Many people are reluctant to consult attorneys for long term care planning because: the cost of consulting with an attorney is seen as significant. qualifying for long term care benefits is seen as a non-legal matter that should be straight-forward and not require...

Estate Planning – Do I Need a Trust?

Clients ask me this question all the time. Do I need a trust? Some people mistakenly believe that a trust is somehow "better" than a will, or that everybody with significant assets needs to have a trust. Often, people want to avoid probate expenses, minimize estate...

Virginia Medicaid – The 5 Year Look Back

Many people have heard that Medicaid has a 5 year look back period. But what does this mean? Clients often bring it up, but they rarely understand it.   The 5-year look back applies to long-term care Medicaid services Medicaid is a large umbrella that includes...

Estate Planning – I’m Young and Healthy. Do I Need a Will?

Ah, estate planning. My grandparents are getting pretty old, so they should probably get that done. And my parents? They are pretty wealthy, so they should probably look into it as well. But me? I’m young! I’m healthy! And I don’t really have that much by way of...

Helpful Info – Virginia Emergency Contact Program

When we are working with Estate Planning clients, we will often recommend that once we have finalized their documents, that they keep a copy of their Advance Medical Directive / Durable Medical Power of Attorney and their Authorization to Disclose Protected Health...

THLG News – Attorney Susan Jean Wins Discharge Appeal

Recently Susan I. Jean, one of the Partners at the Heritage Law Group, won an appeal of a nursing home discharge.  A local nursing home was discharging a resident without assuring that there was a safe place for the resident to go.  By knowing what the law requires of...