Virginia families look a lot different now than they did a few decades ago. The “traditional” family unit of two opposite-sex parents and their children currently comprises only a third of U.S. families. The other two-thirds include blended families with multigenerational members, families with no children, same-sex partners and families where the parents aren’t married to one another.
Since family units and their needs have changed, it makes sense that estate plans also need to change in many cases. What works for what used to be known as a “traditional” family unit may fail to provide for the needs of many families today.
Estate planning tips for Virginia families
Regardless of your family structure, you still need an estate plan to protect your assets and your loved ones. Consider the following:
- Don’t put it off. If you don’t have a plan in place, take steps to put one together. If you have divorced, separated, married, remarried, or made other significant life changes, it’s time to update your estate plan. It’s not so much about your wealth as it is about taking care of loved ones after you are gone.
- Beneficiary designations. Modern families often come with stepchildren and step-grandchildren. If you plan to bequeath any assets to nonbiological relatives, make sure your estate plan reflects your wishes. For example, in most cases, you are allowed to name beneficiaries that are not biological family members.
- Values, beliefs and traditions. As families have changed, so have their traditions, values and belief systems. When making end-of-life medical and financial arrangements, be specific. You don’t want those close to you guessing at what you really want. For example, if your faith or belief system would contradict a doctor’s instincts when treating you, consider including detailed end-of-life treatment instructions.
Richmond is home to virtually every type of family. When it is time to start putting an estate plan together, having experienced legal guidance can help you, your family and all of your future needs.