Estate Planning, Administration And Probate Attorneys

Rhodes Ferguson & Stone, LTD., offers full-service advice, transactions and litigation in matters of estate planning, administration and probate. Keep reading to learn how we can help you and your family.

What Is Included In An Estate Plan?

Rhodes Ferguson & Stone, LTDThere is no one-size-fits-all approach to estate planning. Your set of documents and legal instruments should be unique and customized to you. There are, however, some important elements included in most plans:

A will: A document specifying what should be done with your assets and to whom they should be given.

A basic revocable trust: This is another tool for transferring assets to heirs through a third party. If you name yourself as the trustee, you can still control all of the assets you have placed in the trust. It becomes irrevocable once you pass away.

An advance medical directive: This document helps you plan for medical care and decision-making if you ever become incapacitated (unable to make or communicate decisions). In Virginia, the advance medical directive includes your written wishes for medical care (often called a living will in other states) and a named person who can make medical decisions on your behalf (usually called health care power of attorney).

Designated durable general power of attorney: Naming a trusted person to make legal decisions (unrelated to health care) on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

When it comes to your will, trusts and other financial instruments, a major goal will be to avoid probate. Virginia now offers transfer-on-death deeds and other tools that make it easier to avoid probate.

Other Considerations

The elements above are included in most estate plans. Depending on your circumstances and goals, you may want to add additional elements as well, including:

Medicaid planning: Long-term nursing home care can effectively exhaust all of your assets before you become eligible for Medicaid. We may be able to help you protect certain assets so that you have something to pass along to your loved ones.

Special needs planning: If you have a child or family member with special needs, you may want to establish a special needs trust or other legal instruments to ensure that money is set aside for his or her long-term care.

When You Need To Seek Care On Behalf Of Someone Else

If an aging parent or other loved one has become mentally incapacitated or can no longer manage their own affairs, it may be necessary to seek a guardianship or conservatorship. Guardianship is the legal authority to make daily living decisions for the person in your care, while conservatorship is the authority to manage the person's finances and financial affairs.

The lawyers at Rhodes Ferguson & Stone, LTD., can help you petition the court for either or both of these powers. We can also help you challenge someone else's petition, if you believe that they should not be granted guardianship or conservatorship over your loved one.

Estate Administration And Probate

When someone passes away, our firm regularly provides assistance to their families to help them get through probate and attend to other estate settlement matters. This could include tasks such as:

  • Assistance with setting up estate checking accounts
  • Property inventories
  • Lists of heirs
  • Preparing final accountings.

Representing Your Interests In Estate Litigation

The written documents are not always the last word in how an estate is settled. Litigation is sometimes necessary. Whether you are pursuing litigation or defending yourself in litigation, our firm can represent your interests in nearly all litigated matters, including:

  • Will establishment
  • Will contests
  • Declaring allowances under probate law
  • Breach of fiduciary duty

Contact Us For A Free Discussion About Your Legal Needs

Located in Rocky Mount, Rhodes Ferguson & Stone, LTD., serves clients in Franklin County and surrounding areas. To discuss your estate law needs with an experienced attorney, call us at 540-352-4824, or send us an email.