Estates and Trusts
At Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy, PLC, you will find comprehensive estate planning guidance for individuals and families of all ages. Our lawyers are committed to utilizing their decades of experience and providing you with the representation you deserve. Whether you are seeking assistance in drafting your first will or seeking knowledgeable guidance in intergenerational estate planning and asset preservation, our accomplished northern Virginia estate planning attorneys can help.
COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO ESTATE PLANNING
When you work with our firm, you can be sure that your individual or family estate plan is completely customized to your changing needs and long-term goals.
The experienced legal team at our firm helps clients realize their goals and protect their loved ones, using documents such as:
- Wills – This legal document is used to keep your loved ones and estate protected once you pass away. It serves as a written set of instructions that reflects your last wishes and who you want your property distributed to. By creating this legal document with a Virginia lawyer, you can better prepare for the future and make sure that your last wishes are adhered to.
- Trusts – This type of legal document is used to keep your valuable assets protected. Our legal team can help you understand your options and create the Trust that best suits your needs. Now is the time to establish a Trust that protects your assets and holds them for the benefit of your family members and loved ones.
- Trust Administration – Trust administration is a process that is handled by an appointed Trustee. The Trustee is held responsible for managing the assets in the Trust and making sure that they are properly distributed to the beneficiaries. A northern Virginia attorney can guide you through the process and make sure that you accurately perform your Trustee duties.
- Powers of Attorney – By creating a power of attorney, you are making things easier for both you and your loved ones. This legal document appoints someone to make important decisions for you if you become unable to do so. If you become incapacitated, a power of attorney immediately puts someone in charge of your decisions and eliminates your family from having to go through the lengthy court process.
- Estate Tax Planning – No matter how big or how small your estate in northern Virginia may be, it is always beneficial to discuss your tax options with a qualified probate lawyer. Our legal team can provide you with extensive and up-to-date knowledge in the law and help you best protect your money and estate.
- Estate Planning for Second Marriages – If you are getting remarried, whether because of divorce or the death of your spouse, it is important to update your estate plan and consider a premarital agreement. This allows you to feel more at ease in knowing that your current spouse is included in your estate plan and that your future is more accurately prepared.
- Pet Trusts – If you become disabled or pass away, we understand the importance of keeping your pets safe and well-protected. By creating a pet trust with an experienced estate planning attorney, you are given the chance to leave money behind for the proper care and safety of your loving and very loyal companion.
IS MY ESTATE TAXABLE?
As Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Need help figuring out if your estate will be subject to estate tax? The attorneys at Hale Ball can help. The federal estate tax laws have changed frequently and are slated to change again in 2026.
FEDERAL ESTATE TAX
The current federal estate tax exemption amount is $11.58 million per person (up from $11.4 million in 2019). A married couple can combine their exemptions for a total exemption amount of $23.16 million. This amount increases each year as it is adjusted for inflation, until the year 2025. In 2026, these increases in the federal exemption amount will sunset. The exemption amount reverts to the 2017 level of $5.49 million as adjusted for inflation unless Congress enacts legislation to extend the current exemption levels.
The taxable estate is the gross estate value minus allowable expenses and deductions. The federal estate tax rate is 40 percent. For example, a couple has a taxable estate of $24 million and pass away in 2020. The couple’s heirs would be able to exempt up to $23.16 million from estate taxes and only owe federal estate taxes on $840,000. At the 40% tax rate, the heirs would owe $336,000 in federal estate taxes.
VIRGINIA ESTATE TAX
Virginia does not impose an estate tax or an inheritance tax.
MARYLAND ESTATE TAX
As of January 1, 2020, the estate tax exemption amount in Maryland is $5 million; for a married couple $10 million. The maximum tax rate is 16 percent.
In addition to estate tax, Maryland imposes an inheritance tax of 10% on all distributions to individuals who are not exempted. The primary persons exempted are spouses and children. Unless the Will directs the estate to pay the inheritance tax, the beneficiary has to pay the tax. For example, an uncle leaves his Rolex watch valued at $35,000 to his favorite nephew. The nephew is liable for the $3,000 in inheritance tax. The nephew will get a bill from the Register of Wills. Failure to pay on time will result in substantial fines and penalties. Even if the beneficiary receives a distribution outside the probate process, say a stock account passed by a transfer on death designation, the beneficiary is still subject to the 10% tax.
The lifetime federal gift tax exclusion amount is the same as the federal estate tax exclusion amount. To the extent a person makes gifts during their life which exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion amount, they will be using up some of their estate exemption amount and they should file IRS Form 709. You can give during your life or leave at your death up to $11.58 million without it being taxed by the federal government.
However, a person can make annual gifts without using any of their lifetime gift/estate tax exemption amount of up to $15,000 per person per year. This exclusion amount has been unchanged since 2018. A married couple can make a joint gift of $30,000.
Neither Virginia nor Maryland has a gift tax.
EXPERIENCED ESTATE PLANNING GUIDANCE IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA
In the documents we prepare for our clients, we aim to minimize court costs, legal fees, and taxes through smart estate tax planning. We also address guardianship and inheritance management issues to families with young children. As an experienced law firm, we handle a wide range of legal issues and are determined to spot potential issues in your estate plan and create documents that address those issues.
We offer knowledgeable guidance for executors and heirs throughout the probate and estate administration process and in trust administration. Our legal team is available to advise executors and trustees.
Whether you are just getting started or have existing documents that need to be reviewed and updated, one of our probate lawyers can meet with you and discuss what works best for you and your family. You value your family and your estate; we can help you protect both.
Contact Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy, PLC to arrange a consultation!
Since 1980 the AV-rated law firm of Hale Ball has served the legal needs of individuals and businesses. Our team of attorneys include lawyers named to Super Lawyer and Rising Star lists, as well as attorneys with advanced legal degrees, specialty certifications and lawyers who teach their areas of practice to other lawyers.
Use the contact form on this page to schedule a consultation, or call 703-591-4900.
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Fairfax, VA 22030