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The thought of your imminent mortality and the future of your health is an illuminating realization that likely motivates you to consider estate planning. A recent study concluded that only 33% of Americans have some form of an estate plan in place in the event of a health emergency or their passing. Having a personalized document to cater to the distribution of your estate seems to be viewed as an activity only for the elderly or those with large quantities of wealth to distribute.

At Hughes Legacy Law PLLC, our staff of dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys are here to positively influence your ideas surrounding estate planning. Having an experienced Alexandria estate planning attorney to guide you through the planning process with care and compassion is not only beneficial to your family members, and friends, but significantly reduces your own anxiety and fear about the process.

Components of Estate Planning

One of the easiest ways to alleviate anxiety surrounding estate planning is to learn how it works and what it includes. Preparing a plan for your assets makes the process of handling the loss of a loved one less overwhelming. Estate planning includes but is not limited to, the following:

A Last Will and Testament

At its simplest definition, a last will and testament specifies how you would like to divide and distribute your property and assets among designated family and friends after you pass away. If you have minor children (under the age of 18), the will should also name their legal guardians. There are two types of wills: simple wills and testamentary trust wills. A simple will says that your property, after the payment of taxes and expenses, shall be divided among your designated recipients and then distributed to them to own as they please.

Testamentary trust wills place your assets into a “trust” with conditions outlining how those assets will be disbursed, at what interval, and to whom. A named “trustee” will manage your assets for you after your passing. Whereas a pilot is responsible for flying and landing the plane for the benefit of the passengers, the trustee is responsible for managing your assets for the benefit of your named beneficiaries.


A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that transfers assets from you, the grantor, to the trustee by set terms. There are several types of trusts that are separate from a will. These include special purpose trusts, special need trusts, and charitable trusts. Trusts provide protection from probate and give beneficiaries access to your assets more quickly than a testamentary trust that is contained within your will. Most clients typically choose between a joint trust, created by spouses, or individual trusts. Determining which type of trust document is most appropriate for you and your family depends on your family and financial circumstances and your attorney will assist you in making your choice.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is document that legally authorizes an “agent” to act on behalf of another (“the principal”). There are two types of powers of attorney, general and limited. A general power of attorney gives broad authority whereas a limited one only gives authority to do those things specifically noted. Powers of attorney are usually durable (they take effect at the time you sign them and typically remain in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated) or springing (they take effect when you later become “disabled”). Most POAs cover medical and/or financial duties. These duties include, but are not limited to bill payment, investment decisions, tax return preparation, and management of real estate and finances.

Having a power of attorney not only provides relief from stress and anxiety of the unknown future, but it gives your family clear and precise guidance during emotionally challenging times.


Estate planning provides you with a sense of ease in knowing that your friends and family will be taken care of and that your wishes will be fulfilled without contest. These individual(s) and/or entities you identify to receive or inherit your property upon your passing are referred to as “beneficiaries.” Beneficiaries can be any living person or even a trust, estate, or organization. You can even provide for your pets!

Estate plans are subject to change, as the circumstances of your life often do. With an attorney’s guidance, you can revisit and redefine your plan’s goals every couple of years, or after any major life change. 

Need Assistance with your Estate Planning? Hughes Legacy Law PLLC Is Here to Help

Relieve yourself and your family from the stress of the unknown–contact Hughes Legacy Law PLLC and connect with one of our compassionate estate planners today. With years of experience, we are here to guide you in mapping out your ideal future and preparing for any turns life may take.

Together we will devise an estate plan to help your family members when they need it the most. Get started today by calling (703) 977-1139 or fill out our online contact form. Our team looks forward to hearing from you!