Friday, July 28, 2017

Looking Forward to Retirement

Debra Pecor,
As the months tick by way too quickly, I am looking to retire before the end of this year.  I will only be 62, but I have been working since I was 16.  My passion then was to be a nurse and I did go to nursing school, graduated and got my LPN license.  I worked as an LPN but always third shift.  Then my husband joined the Army (he got laid off from his job four months before the birth of our first child).  At least being in the military, we knew we would have medical insurance to cover the medical expenses and off to Colorado we went.  (Okay there were stops along the way, but that’s for another day).   Our oldest son was born the day after I arrived in Colorado Springs….and my husband was still in Oklahoma.  He missed the whole thing.  He was there though when our second son was born.  My husband served 3 years active duty and then back to Vermont we went to do 4 years of National Guards, since we knew that his next duty station would probably be Germany.  This was in the 1970s, we were young and thought we couldn’t possibly go to another country.  I was terribly homesick while we were in Colorado and our children wouldn’t be around their grandparents, all kinds of excuses.  
            Now looking back, it seems like perhaps he should have stayed in.  I hear everyone talk about how they were stationed all over the world and the adventures they had.   I am sure we all have times when we look back and think “why did we do that?” or “why didn’t we do that?”  I don’t regret the decision we made because I still feel it was best for our family.  I wanted our children to grow up in the same town I did (even though others couldn’t wait to get out of there), to know their grandparents and spend time with them.  My sons were old enough to even have great-grandparents on my side of the family.  Those are memories that can never be replaced.  What does this have to do with retiring?  I hear and see so often in obituaries or through friends “oh he just retired a month ago” or “she was set to retire at the end of the month.”  I want to be sure that I have time with my husband, with my grandchildren, with my sisters.  My Mom passed away at the very early age of 70……..just 2 years after her 88 year old mother died.  Never expected that.  No one knows what a day will bring.  There is only one who knows the number of our days, but I want to make sure that I make those days count.  I expect I won’t just be sitting around!  But maybe all those craft supplies in my closet will be put to good use!! Well, I can hope!!

            Make sure your life is full of wonderful memories and no regrets!!

Monday, July 3, 2017

A New Era for the Augmented Estate Statute

Erin A. Smith, Esq.
This year, the Virginia Assembly adopted new rules with respect to Virginia’s augmented estate. The Augmented Estate Statue protects married couples from disinheriting each other by allowing the surviving spouse to make a claim against the decedent spouses’ estate for probate assets, non-probate assets, and even transfers of assets to third parties. These combined assets are considered the decedent’s augmented estate.
The philosophy behind the statute is that a spouse has a duty to support his or her spouse even at death. The changes in the statute modernize this view of statutory “support” in favor of a financial partnership theory. The amount that the spouse will receive depends on the number of years they were married.
Under the new law, the surviving spouse is still entitled to up to one half of the augmented estate, but what is considered the “marital share” depends on the duration of the parties’ marriage and ranges from 1.5% of the total augmented estate for a marriage of less than one year to a full 50% for a marriage of fifteen years or more.
There is a now a two-step process: the determination of the percentage of the marital-property portion which is dependent upon the number of years married, then, there’s a determination of the “elective share amount” which is always 50% of whatever that marital-property portion turns out to be.  
The new statute also clarifies that the surviving spouse making an elective share claim may also claim a homestead allowance of $20,000.00, which is to be paid to the spouse first after expenses are paid.
Domestic relations and estate planning often intersect. After a divorce in Virginia, in determining the amount and duration of spousal support, courts look at a number of statutory factors including the years of marriage. The duration of the marriage is one of the key factors considered.
In a previous blog, I explained why a pre-nuptial agreement is a wise choice because you can make the decision about the disposition of your property in the event of divorce or death. Otherwise, the laws of the Commonwealth will make that decision for you.