It’s never too early to be prepared.

Estate Planning

No matter what age you are, it is never too early to begin taking the steps necessary to protect your assets and make sure that your beneficiaries receive the property you would like them to have with minimal delay and expense, while providing appropriate safeguards for how funds should be spent. It is also never too late to take estate planning steps that can protect your family’s stability in the years to come. At The Law Offices of Elizabeth McMaster, PLC with offices in Suffolk, VA and Fredericksburg, VA, we help individuals and their families throughout Hampton Roads, the greater Fredericksburg area and across Northern Virginia develop and implement estate planning goals which will promote their legacy and provide financial security to their loved ones.

Whether you are updating your estate planning strategies, or are taking the first steps in estate planning, our legal team is dedicated to the highest level of client service in helping you achieve all your estate planning goals.


Services Include

Through working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can make sure that your beneficiaries and others receive the financial help they need while minimizing estate, capital gains, and transfer taxes. Whether you are creating a simple will, a trust to meet your children’s educational needs, a Special Needs Trust to provide care for a disabled beneficiary, or any other issue, we will work with you to help you fully understand how various estate planning instruments can help you and your loved ones and be with you every step of the way to make your estate planning goals a reality.



Confidently make provisions for your property and family members.



An experienced trustee manages your assets and dispenses them to the beneficiary according to the terms you laid out in the trust.


Asset Protection Plans

Proactive legal action that protects your assets from future creditors, divorce, lawsuits, or judgments.


Retirement Planning

Be prepared for every aspect of your future.


Special Needs Trusts (SNTs)

Ensure your loved ones are protected, no matter what.


Updates and Modifications

We make updates quick and simple.

Common Estate Planning Mistakes


Not having a real plan in place

If you don’t have a will or trust in place, state succession laws and the probate process will help determine where your assets go. You do not want your estate and end of life care to be determined by state laws and the court system.


Not updating plans over time
Estate planning isn’t a “set it and forget it” matter. Simply having a plan isn’t enough. Estate plans need to be updated after major life events, when your goals shift, or when public policy changes. Examples of these changes could be moving to another state, a birth or death in the family, or changes at the state or federal government level.


Not planning for disability & long-term care
Seventy percent of people age 65 will need long-term care before the end of their life. A private room in a nursing home costs more than $100,000 a year, and a home health aide costs more than $50,000 a year.

Long-term care is likely the largest unfunded retirement risk retirees face today, and it’s easy to see why when you look at the numbers.


Not planning for estate tax liability
Currently, the government is in need of revenue and is looking toward new taxes as a solution. A wealth tax, raising income taxes or increasing estate tax revenue will likely all be on the table over the next few years.


Improper ownership of assets
End of life planning can expose oversights surrounding asset ownership. The first mistake people make is not owning property jointly as spouses. On specific occasions, spouses may want to keep property separate. But when they own property together, it creates creditor protections and efficiencies in transferring property upon the first spouse’s death.


Lacking liquidity
Asset liquidity is important to have during life and especially after death. If your estate needs to be split among children, a surviving spouse or other heirs, it needs to have the proper amount of liquidity. Life insurance is an efficient way to create estate liquidity, help split up wealth and pay off debts.


Not considering the impact of income taxes on you and your beneficiaries
Certain assets left to heirs can create unintended income taxes for your beneficiaries. While many people are aware that their IRAs and 401(k)s are subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs) after age 70.5, you might not know that inherited accounts can also be subject to RMDs. A 401(k) or IRA inherited by an adult child is subject to RMDs and these RMDs could impact the beneficiary’s tax situation. Money will have to come out of the account each year, and in most cases with traditional IRAs and 401(k)s, the entire distribution is taxable. The RMD is taxed as ordinary income and stacks on top of an individual’s current earnings.


Not planning for minor children/beneficiaries
One of the most important goals of estate planning is to make sure your children are cared for in the case of you and/or your spouse’s untimely death.

You also need to have a proper will in place that designates a guardian. (Make sure you ask the relative or friend before listing them as the designated guardian.) Beyond naming a guardian, spell out instructions for how the money should support the children — too often people leave money to the guardian to manage at their discretion.


Not reviewing impact of beneficiary decisions on retirement accounts
The goal of qualified retirement accounts is to provide tax, investment and creditor protection benefits to encourage and support retirement savings. However, since retirement accounts can be one of the largest assets that an individual owns, they can represent a large part of their estate. As such, it’s important to consider how to pass along the account and which beneficiaries are the best to inherit a retirement account.

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