When an adult dies without an estate plan in place, it can be devastating for their dependents who rely on their financial support. Attorney Xue Connelly with Wade, Grimes, Friedman, Meinken & Leischner breaks down why it is vital to have an estate plan in place and the best ways to ensure your beneficiaries are protected after your passing.

What Happens If I Die Without Estate Planning in Place?

In Virginia, when an adult with minor beneficiaries dies without an estate plan in place, the funds for those minors are placed under the care of a guardian of property. According to Ms. Connelly, without a trust in place, there is little to no access granted to these funds for the maintenance, support and education of the child until he turns 18. 

Additionally, the guardian of the property will be under court supervision, requiring them to file yearly accountings of the funds. These accountings can get expensive to file and the fees associated will be taken out of the child’s portion of their parent’s inheritance. 

What Does This Mean for Providing Care for the Child?

According to Ms. Connelly, not having the proper estate plan in place can make it difficult for the guardian to pay for important items like extracurricular school activities, a car for the child, college applications and tuition. This can be especially difficult if the deceased was the main provider for their family. 

How Can I Get Estate Planning in Place for My Child? 

Ms. Connelly urges parents to follow these steps to make sure their minor beneficiaries are protected in the case of their death:

  • Contact an estate planning attorney
  • Complete and file estate planning documents
  • Set up a revocable trust

What Is a Revocable Trust in Virginia?

A revocable trust in Virginia is an estate plan option that allows you to place your assets in a trust while continuing to use and control them. Setting up a revocable trust will allow a Trustee to access these funds for the benefit of the beneficiaries before they turn 18. Ms. Connelly explains that it also allows for the parent to determine when their child can access the funds throughout the beneficiary’s lifetime. 

“In a trust document, you have more flexibility, for example, the child could receives some money at ages 20, 25 and 30, allowing them to reach an age where they have a more mature approach to finances than they would have if they received a large amount of money at 18,” says Ms. Connelly. 

If you would like to learn more about estate planning and setting up a revocable trust for your beneficiaries, contact Xue Connelly today.

Whether you are facing a family law, protective order, estate planning, bankruptcy and/or criminal-law-related issue, Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC is here for you during challenging times.