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Q. What documents do I need for proper estate planning?

A. At a minimum, every individual should consider having an Advanced Medical Directive, a Power of Attorney, and a Last Will and Testament.  The first two documents take care of needs expected to arise during your life and the last, upon your death. The Advanced Medical Directive is a variation of the Living Will and designates an individual to make health care decisions for you under designated circumstances. The Power of Attorney, which terminates upon your death, designates an individual to act on your behalf and can be as limited as you would like. Finally, the Last Will and Testament, effective upon your death, appoints an individual as Personal Representative to carry out your wishes as to the disposition of your estate.

   One other document which you might want to consider is a Burial Power of Attorney. Virginia law permits an individual to designate another person who accepts the responsibility to have full and complete authority to make all of the arrangements for the burial or disposition of the individual’s remains.The costs incurred are expenses of the estate, to be reimbursed by the personal representative.

Each of these documents bestows certain powers upon an individual that you name to carry out your wishes, whether it be an attorney-in-fact or a personal representative. Therefore, you should take into account the abilities, the commitment, and the trustworthiness of the person to perform the designated duties in selecting him. In addition, you should consider naming another individual as an “alternate” in the event that your first choice is unable or refuses to serve for whatever reason.


Q. How is the amount of child support determined in Virginia?

A. Virginia has adopted specific guidelines to determine the presumptively correct amount of child support.The basic child obligation is calculated based upon the parents’ combined gross income (which may be adjusted for other children born of different relationships) and the number of children for whom support is being sought. If either parent incurs additional expenses such as health insurance, work related day care expenses, and certain extraordinary medical expenses, the basic child support obligation will be increased. The resulting amount is then pro-rated according to the percentage of income for each parent to determine the amount of the obligation. Deviations may be made under certain circumstances.


Q. I operate a business as a sole proprietor. Should I incorporate?

A. Incorporation, whether as a corporation or a limited liability company, can provide protection of individual assets from liabilities associated with the operation of the business. The process of incorporation or registration of a limited liability company is generally quick. You should consult with an attorney concerning the specific circumstances of your business to determine the appropriate type of entity.


Q. Are employment agreements containing covenants not to compete enforceable in Virginia?

A. Each agreement stands or falls on the specific language used in the contract. The Virginia Supreme Court has recognized both the validity and enforceability of such covenants in certain situations. The Court applies a balancing test to ensure that legitimate interests of the employer are protected while not unduly restricting the ability of the employee to earn a livelihood. Therefore, the agreement should be drafted and/or reviewed by an attorney familiar with such covenants.

This discussion is not intended to provide legal advice nor does the viewing of this discussion create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney of your choosing if you have any specific questions requiring legal advice.

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