Trusts & Estates
In the process of redesigning the Reilly Law, PLC website, we decided to feature this beautiful picture of Arlington National Cemetery right up front on the homepage. If you have visited other estate planning firm websites you know that it is unusual to actually show on the website images that highlight the significance of the work done for clients. Instead you often see beautiful scenery pictures, family members holding hands, wistful looks, something other than the stark image of a cemetery, of the reality of death, and the essential nature of estate planning. The picture is beautiful and is a wonderful tribute to the fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and others who are honored at Arlington National Cemetery. But more than that, it is a reminder of mortality and the importance of being prepared.
We call what we do at Reilly Law, PLC “Peace of Mind Planning.” Many people misunderstand the concept of estate planning. Though estate planning does help us face the inevitability of eventual death, Peace of Mind Planning is more of a game plan for life than one focused on death. At Reilly Law, PLC, we take pride in helping our clients organize their present and prepare for their future. What Peace of Mind Planning is really focused on are the things that you can do while you’re alive to help your family through the difficult circumstances of what we call our “four Ds.” These are some of the challenges we all might face in life: Disease, disability, dementia, and yes, death. I was discussing this with our friendly postal clerk and she insisted I forgot a “D.” She told me we needed to add “Denial” to the list! Now we talk with our clients about the “five Ds” because yes, denial is a big factor for many people. Everyone knows that if you don’t talk about these things, they won’t happen, right? If you don’t talk about disease or disability or dementia or death, then nothing could possibly go wrong in your life and all will be well. Well, we know that’s not right. We know as Ben Franklin so artfully put it centuries ago, the only certain things in life are death and taxes. We all have an expiration date. We just don’t know when that is. So we plan now for an uncertain future.
Whether you are a young person or couple just beginning to accumulate wealth, a middle-aged couple planning for retirement, or an older individual or couple dealing with issues of aging, Reilly Law, PLC attorneys are here to help you understand your options. We serve the estate planning needs of individuals and families from Northern Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, and provide our clients with Wills, Trusts, and other legal readiness documents that are not only comprehensive, but also tailored to suit individual needs. There is no “one size fits all” approach here. We offer essential legal readiness packages for both young families and our “young at heart” clients who prefer a more basic plan. But we also offer more complex plans for those who have more complicated needs such as second spouse situations, children with special needs or financial management issues.
We also offer related services such as probate and estate and trust administration, as well as tax services. But that’s all we do—we are focused on planning and advice for life’s challenges and for end of life care. We don’t chase ambulances, litigate cases, or practice family law. This practice specialization distinguishes Reilly Law, PLC from many other attorneys and firms.
The Reilly Law Experience
If the decedent had a Living Trust and had appointed a Successor Trustee there is no gap in legal authority. A Co- or Successor Trustee, even one who was not previously acting, automatically steps into the role as a Trustee able to take any actions related to the decedent and the Trust. This is one of the main benefits of a Trust-based estate plan over a Will-based plan.
In addition to our specialization on Peace of Mind Planning, the experienced and compassionate estate planning attorneys at Reilly Law, PLC understand that our work with you may be emotionally difficult because we are assisting you in making decisions that involve your loved ones, your business, who you want to take care of things for you, how you want your estate to be distributed when you pass away, how you want to be remembered, what charities or causes you may want to support, and end of life care choices. George Reilly, our lead attorney, has more than 30 years of experience working with clients and helping them get their own customized plans in place that accomplish their goals and protect assets from unnecessary taxes, spendthrift relatives, and dangerous scams.
Our experience and practice focus set us apart from other estate planning attorneys but we are still an affordable choice for your planning needs. This is not a stuffy and richly appointed law office. When you visit us in Historic Occoquan office you will find our office comfortable, cozy, and welcoming. Our volunteer “receptionist” Lucy, a friendly office dog, is often on hand to welcome guests. (Though she has no legal training, she is an extremely good listener.)
We were described by a client as being “casual professionals” in that we rarely wear suits and ties and keep things simple. But don’t let our casual approach fool you—we are definitely professionals, very experienced in what we do, and look at things differently from other attorneys. One reason for this is that we are not only knowledgeable about legal matters, but about financial ones as well. George Reilly is, in addition to being a first-rate estate planning attorney, also a Certified Financial Planner™, meaning he has studied financial matters much more intensively than the average attorney. Although fewer than 3 percent of all of the CFPs in the U.S. also have a law degree, George recognized the importance of the financial planning process in preparing a comprehensive estate plan, and earned this certification to enhance his legal practice. As a result, when you work with Reilly Law, PLC you will see the impact of this merger of financial and legal planning into the comprehensive Peace of Mind Plan our firm offers.
One other distinguishing feature of Reilly Law, PLC is our membership in a nationwide network of estate planning attorneys, WealthCounsel, that offers us the latest information and practice tools so we can stay abreast of changes in the law and provide the best possible service to our clients. Other WealthCounsel members also offer mentorship and specialized expertise so our attorneys never have to go it alone even in our small firm. We essentially have a large law “firm” supporting us and our clients.
One last distinguishing feature of Reilly Law, PLC is that we have a special affinity for members of the military and those in government service. George Reilly served more than 20 years as an officer in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps and later served in civil service positions with the Navy and Department of Defense. Because of his own service and appreciation for those who serve, the firm offers a discount to active duty military, veterans and civilian government employees, teachers, and first responders and their families.
How Our Estate Planning Law Firm Can Help You
Like many professions, law has its own vocabulary (including Latin words and phrases!) that is often confusing to non-lawyers. Similarly, legal documents can be very challenging for a non-lawyer to understand even though it affects them and their loved ones. Because of this we spend a lot of time working with our clients to help them understand their plan documents and the terminology involved. We try to reduce the “legalese” when we can, and explain it when we can’t. We provide summaries and overview diagrams and have visual aids as we work through the planning process.
Since we call what we do Peace of Mind Planning it is very important that at the end of the process our clients truly have peace of mind. This means that they understand what their plan will do for them, who will be assisting them along the way, and the steps needed going forward, if any, to complete the planning process.
Specific services we offer our clients include:
- Reviewing current estate planning documents
- Drafting essential legal readiness documents such as Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Health Care Directives/Living Wills
- Setting up Trusts that will be most useful in your particular circumstances
- Helping to protect your assets
- Coordinating your finances with your legal plan
- Helping you and your loved ones avoid the need for a guardianship process
- Planning to avoid or minimize complex and expensive probate even in cases where clients want a simpler plan
- Working with you to review your assets and plans regularly
- Making necessary alterations to your documents as your life changes
As mentioned earlier, estate planning is not a “one size fits all” endeavor, nor is it an activity that is undertaken once and then remains unchanged. Because of the many complicated ways in which our lives change from one year (sometimes one day!) to the next, it is essential to have an estate planning attorney who has the education and experience to help clients “remodel” their estate plans over the years to accommodate marriages, divorces, remarriages, births, deaths, adoptions, illnesses, injuries, inheritances, relocation and other life events.
When you work with the attorneys and staff at Reilly Law, PLC, you can be certain that the estate planning assistance you receive will be thorough and adaptable. As we say, our approach to estate planning is so different we had to give it a new name. We look forward to speaking to you about our Peace of Mind Planning program and we can be reached by phone, email or through the contact forms on our website.