Upcoming Changes to Virginia’s Estate Planning Laws
In July 2017, a number of legislative changes will go into effect in Virginia, some of which alter wills, trusts, and other estate planning matters. Whether you need to get started on your will, are interested in creating a trust, or wonder whether any of these changes will affect your plan for the future, contact an experienced Leesburg estate planning attorney for assistance.
HB 1492: Special Needs Trusts
Starting in July, parents who are part of a child custody and support situation can request that the child support be paid to a special needs trust or an ABLE savings trust account instead of directly to the other parent or guardian. Either party has the right to request that the court put this in the child support order. This can help protect income intended for a child’s care, particularly when a portion or all of this support will be saved for the child’s future care.
HB 2289: Life Insurance Upon Divorce
A court can require a party to maintain a currently existing life insurance policy or to renew a policy that had been cancelled or lapsed during the marriage for the benefit of the other party following a court order for spousal support or maintenance. This means an individual may be required to keep an insurance policy with their ex-spouse as the beneficiary even at the divorce. This future benefit may be considered as part of the spousal support or maintenance and it would end when the duty to pay spousal support or maintenance ends.
HB 1516/SB 1177: A Surviving Spouse’s Elective Share
If a surviving spouse of a decedent who passed away on or after Jan. 1, 2017, claims and receives an elective share of the decedent’s estate, then the homestead allowance available to that spouse will be in addition to any benefit or elective share passing to that surviving spouse. This is a departure from previous law that stated the surviving spouse who receives an elective share was not entitled to the homestead allowance.
SB 903/HB 1608: Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act
This law will enable fiduciaries to manage another person’s digital property, including files on that person’s computer, web domains, virtual currency like bitcoin, and more. This is becoming a crucial aspect of a fiduciary’s responsibilities in this digital age. However, the Act also restricts a fiduciary’s rights in order to maintain the person’s privacy. A fiduciary does not automatically have access to electronic communications like email, texts, and social media accounts unless the original user prepares for this and consents to the fiduciary’s access through a will, trust, power of attorney, or other writing. At the same time, Virginia is repealing the 2015 Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act.
Do You Have an Estate Planning Question?
If you are older or have children, then you should be thinking ahead and making plans for when you are gone. Creating your will and using other legal instruments to pass on your wealth is known as estate planning. At Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC, we can help you understand your options, current Virginia law, and draft any necessary documents. To learn more, call us today at 703-997-4982.