Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Richmond Legal Blog

Trusts and wills as part of estate planning

Estate planning can be important for people in Virginia who want to make sure that their assets pass on to their heirs in the manner they choose. By making an estate plan, people can allocate their property and also help to avoid future conflict and delays among their family members. There are several types of documents that can be an important part of an overall plan, including wills and trusts. Wills are perhaps the best-known estate document, a written testament that directs how a person's property should be disbursed after they pass away. It goes into effect after the person dies and, in most cases, passes through the probate court system.

A trust is effective at the moment it is created while a will goes into effect only after death. There are several types of trusts, and some may be funded by the will itself rather than during the creator's lifetime. One of the most important steps in planning to use a trust is determining how and when the trust will be funded. Many people prefer trusts because of the higher level of flexibility and control that they provide. However, the formation of a trust can create an interest in the beneficiaries while the creation of a will does not.

Is it worth fighting for sole custody in a Virginia divorce?

Divorce can easily become messy when a couple lets their emotions guide their decisions at the end of their marriage. People often want to punish their spouse or "win" in the divorce in any way they can. Some people will fight to keep certain assets or try to secure what they view as a favorable asset division outcome. Others think of fighting for sole custody of the children as a way to beat their spouse in a divorce.

If you are about to file for divorce or have recently received service because your spouse filed, you might find yourself thinking about sole custody. However, a contentious approach to custody will not benefit your children and could even hurt your chances for a positive custody outcome.

High asset divorce can hold big tax consequences

Recent changes to the tax code created potentially devastating tax consequences if a high asset divorce is not handled properly. Where large, valuable assets are concerned, the Republican tax overhaul that took place this year made some significant changes. So much so that attorneys and financial advisors are now recommending that personal accountants become a strategic part of the divorce process.

The chief wealth strategist at Wilmington Trust offers four potential strategies for couples to lessen the tax burdens after divorce. First, move alimony into a trust. Beginning with 2019, spouses may no longer deduct alimony payments as a business expense. This eliminated a substantial tax break for many paying spouses. The reason for this change was that while those ordered to pay alimony had been able to take the tax break, those who received it were not required to report it as income. Therefore, the IRS has had to make up for that shortfall since the tax code of 1942, and the offer of alimony was used by parties as a way to entice settlement negotiations.

How filing for divorce in 2020 will impact the rest of the year

The holidays are a stressful time that can put a lot of strain on marital relationships. Combine that with the desire for a fresh start in the new year, and you have a plausible explanation for why divorce filings tend to increase dramatically in January every year.

Whether you were waiting to put the holidays behind you to ensure your children wouldn't associate Christmas with the end of their parents' marriage or you just want a fresh start in the new year, you won't be alone if you take action to end your marriage this year.

Richmond bicyclist killed in hit-and-run

Richmond police made an arrest in the fatal hit-and-run of a bicyclist on Friday, December 20th. Authorities received a call at approximately 10:19 p.m.

Upon arrival, officers found a man lying in the roadway in the 5500 block of Chesterfield Drive in the South Richmond area. He was identified and determined to be 52 years old. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers located the vehicle that struck him on Joplin Avenue. There, they arrested a 28-year-old woman. She was charged with felony hit and run resulting in death. In addition, it was discovered that she did not possess a valid driver's license.

Drunk pedestrians are just as liable as drunk drivers

The Department of Motor Vehicles recently released a warning to pedestrians, citing some alarming statistics. With holiday parties in full swing, the DMV is warning party-goers about impaired walking. In other words, walking while intoxicated.

According to statistics, as of December 6, 2019, 25 pedestrians who were killed in Virginia were drinking before the accidents happened. Between 2016 and 2018, 71% of all pedestrian fatalities took place in urban areas. Eighty percent of those accidents were between the hours of 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. Further, 39% of pedestrian accidents occurred on a Friday or Saturday.

Richmond bans holding cell phones while driving

The city of Richmond has passed an ordinance that bans drivers from holding any communications device, such as a cell phone, in their hand while operating a motor vehicle. The purpose of the ordinance is to help keep pedestrians safe and eliminate traffic fatalities. The ordinance was passed by the City Council in a unanimous vote and contains exceptions for public safety personnel or drivers who are having an emergency situation.

A former Richmond police officer who was struck by a distracted truck driver and pinned between two cars, causing him to lose both legs testified before the council. He testified that the accident could have been completely avoided if the driver had been paying attention on an icy road. It is the hope of the council that the General Assembly will take notice of the ordinance and continue to push for a statewide law banning the use of such devices.

Powers of Attorney types and purposes

Most people who have never had any experience with estate planning or caring for a sick loved one do not realize that there are multiple types of powers of attorney. Each has its own purpose and rules regarding when it goes into effect, what powers it gives the agent, and when or if it can be revoked.

The most common and well-known type is a durable power of attorney. In layman's terms, this form is when one person gives another person power to make decisions for them. The person granting the power is known as the "principal" and the person receiving the power is the "agent." Decision-making powers include, but are not limited to, medical and financial decisions. It is irrevocable and its powers will continue even when the principal becomes incapacitated. Therefore, it is very important that a person use extreme care and caution when choosing an appointed agent.

Breaking the news about your divorce to your family

While it can be difficult to come to the conclusion that you want to go through a divorce, it can be even harder to open up the discussion to your friends and family. You may be worried about the expectations that your friends and family have of you, and you won't want to disappoint them. While it's understandable that you would be concerned about the opinions of people you love, you must take action to do what is best for you and your children.

Try to remind yourself of the reasons why you took action to get a divorce. See these reasons as armor you can wear when you find that you are doubting your actions or worrying about whether others will approve. If you are worried about breaking the news of your divorce to your family and friends, consider the following tips.

Ignition interlock requirement raises cost of a DUI

Virginia has some of the harshest penalties for drunk driving in the nation. Even first-time offenders can have their driving privileges suspended for a year. Many can drive before a year is up, but must do so with a restricted license.

Virginia courts can also require drivers to have an auto ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles as a condition of receiving a restricted license. These devices require drivers to blow into a chemical breath test machine before they can start the vehicle's motor. If the device senses alcohol on their breath, the vehicle will not start. Furthermore, drivers are required to check in periodically while the car is running, in order to show they are still sober.

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Coates & Davenport, P.C.
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Richmond, VA 23230

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