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Do I Need an Estate Planner, a Financial Planner, Or Both?

Because estate planning and financial planning are both related to your finances, some Virginia residents get the two types of services mixed up. They are unsure if they need an estate planner, a financial planner, or both.

The answer is that you do need both an estate planner and a financial planner. Keep reading for an explanation of these two different types of services, and why you need Northern Virginia estate planning and financial planning services.

What is an Estate Planner?

An estate planner is a specialized attorney who helps you create legal documents related to your estate – that is, your assets. Typically, these documents are created so that your assets can be distributed as you wish upon your death. However, there are also several other estate documents that help determine choices that will be made on your behalf while you are living, especially if you are too sick or injured to make important life decisions yourself.

What Estate Documents Do I Need?

At the very minimum, all Virginia residents need the following estate-related documents:

  • A will, which determines how your assets will be distributed upon your death and, if you have minor children, who will be their legal guardian if you die while they are still under age 18.
  • An advance medical directive, which states your wishes regarding the types of medical treatments you would want in the event you weren’t able to make medical decisions for yourself, such as whether or not you would want doctors to take extraordinary measures to save your life, such as putting you on life support.
  • A power of attorney document, which legally documents who can access your finances and make financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated by injury or illness.

What Other Estate Documents Are Sometimes Needed?

Depending on their family and financial situations, individuals or couples are strongly advised to put their major assets in a  trust. A trust is a legal document that allows you to put your assets in a different legal entity while still maintaining control over them until you die, or are otherwise incapacitated. Examples of why you might need a trust include:

  • The transfer of assets in a trust to your heir(s) can take place immediately after your death or incapacitation without going through the delays and expense of probate court.
  • If you have a lot of assets and are a potential target for tort lawsuits based on your net worth.
  • If you have a special needs child – regardless of his or her age – in which case you would need a special needs trust so your child could inherit assets from you without losing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid eligibility.

Who Needs an Estate Planner?

Every adult over age 18 needs, at a minimum, a will, a power of attorney document, and an advanced medical directive.

Many parents don’t realize that once their children turn 18 – even if they are still in high school – they lose the legal right to make medical decisions for them. Getting these documents created upon turning age 18 is extremely important for all Northern Virginians.

What is a Financial Planner?

A financial planner helps you save investments that will eventually be assets you leave behind after you die. All adults who are working need a financial planner to help them:

  • Receive education on investment options and investment advice based on your personal risk tolerance.
  • Create an investment plan and goal for retirement savings.
  • Rollover old 401(k)s or 403(bs) into IRAs upon leaving an employer.
  • Create and invest in Roth IRAs, which grow tax-free.
  • Set up education savings accounts for your children’s college funds.
  • If you have a special needs child, create an ABLE account, which allows you to save up to $100,000 in their name without the account counting against them for receiving SSI benefits.
  • Purchase additional investment options, such as single stocks, mutual funds, and bonds.

While you can technically purchase any investment account on your own, the advice and education you get from a certified financial planner are well worth the nominal fee you pay for his or her services.

How We Help

At our law firm, we are Northern Virginia estate planners. We help you create all the legal documents you need in the event you are incapacitated and need a trusted individual to make decisions for you, or you have passed away and need your assets distributed to your loved ones seamlessly and smoothly.

Contact Us Today to Begin Your Estate Planning

Our Northern Virginia estate planning attorneys are ready to help you with all of your estate planning needs. Contact us today to get the process started by calling (703) 938-3510 or filling out our online contact form.