Estate Planning, Estate Administration, and Elder Law for the Northern Shenandoah Valley
As a boutique firm, Shenandoah Estate Planning & Elder Law PLC focuses entirely on estate planning and administration, and elder law, including the drafting of wills, trusts, and powers of attorney, as well as Medicaid Planning and guardianships and conservatorships. This focus means clients benefit from expertise that a general practice firm often cannot provide.
Clients deserve more from a legal professional than mere competence. At Shenandoah Estate Planning & Elder Law PLC, clients can expect an attorney who not only strives for excellence at the practice of law, but at the practice of life. This translates to approachability, humility, and dedication to providing excellent and timely work-product.
By leveraging both technology and frugality, Shenandoah Estate Planning & Elder Law PLC keeps overhead costs to a minimum, passing savings on to clients in the form of lower fees than many competitors, beginning with free initial consultations. Clients also benefit from the predictable, flat fees offered for many of the core legal services.
Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law for the Northern Shenandoah Valley
Shenandoah Estate Planning & Elder Law PLC is a law firm with offices in Winchester and Strasburg founded by attorney Vincent J. Mata that focuses on estate planning, including wills and trusts, probate and estate administration, Medicaid planning and asset preservation, incapacity issues, including guardianships and conservatorships, as well as fiduciary services. Vincent is licensed to practice law in both Virginia and West Virginia and is happy to make house calls to meet with clients in the comfort of their own homes throughout the Northern Shenandoah Valley, including Woodstock, Strasburg, Front Royal, Stephens City, Middletown, as well as all of Frederick, Warren, Shenandoah, and Clarke Counties.
What is “Elder Law”?
Elder law encompasses a variety of legal practice areas, including not only wills, trusts, and estates, but also Medicaid planning and asset preservation, social security issues, guardianships and conservatorships, and unfortunately, sometimes neglect, abuse, or medical malpractice claims.
Not just for the elderly…
Estate planning and “elder law” are not just for the elderly. Estate planning is for people of all ages. Young families in particular need to have estate plans in place to ensure that minor children are provided for in the event of an emergency or the loss of their parents. Furthermore, it is often the adult children of the elderly who must take the initiative in securing a guardianship or conservatorship for an incapacitated parent or ensuring that a will or trust is in place, or that an estate is properly administered.
“A population that does not take care of the elderly and of children and the young has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise.”
Shenandoah Estate Planning & Elder Law PLC provides guidance as to the best estate planning vehicle for your situation, whether a Will or a Living Trust, or a more Advanced planning strategy.
The Last Will and Testament is the traditional core of an estate plan, and every estate plan still includes one. Ranging from the most simple that mirror default rules, to complex wills that trigger the creation of various kinds of trusts upon one’s passing, everyone should have a will to ensure your loved ones are provided for according to your wishes.
Revocable Living Trusts
Trusts can be powerful instruments for avoiding probate, minimizing estate taxes, protecting assets, preserving government benefits, and more. A trust-based estate plan is generally more expensive upfront because of the more extensive drafting and documents, but often generates savings that far exceed this initial cost.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable general power of attorney authorizes other people to make decisions on your behalf, even if you later become incapacitated. It is a standard and often crucial part of any estate plan. A well-drafted POA can avoid the need of an expensive Guardianship or Conservatorship proceeding down the road.
Advance Medical Directive
Advance Medical Directives include Living Wills that indicate your wishes concerning end-of-life care, a Medical Power of Attorney, and provide for other advance directives concerning anatomical gifts and future healthcare decisions. This is another core component of any estate plan.
Special Needs Trusts
Special Needs Trusts are designed to preserve eligibility for government benefits for persons with disabilities and other special circumstances. There are first party and third party variants and sometimes these are created by a will and other times created outright. If you or a loved one receives government benefits and expects to receive money from an inheritance, law suit, or other source, a Special Needs Trust might be in order.
Charitable Trusts are established to benefit qualified charitable organizations and need to follow particular requirements established by the IRS regulations and other laws. If you are interested in establishing a charitable trust to benefit a charitable organization, request a consultation today to discuss your circumstances and options.
Asset Protection Trust
Virginia law now permits domestic asset protection trusts that can help shield assets from potential creditors. If you are at high risk of exposure to liability (physicians, certain business owners, etc.), a domestic asset protection trust may be a prudent option to provide some additional financial security.
Elder Law Services
Long-term Care Planning
Long-term Care Planning often involves legal decision-making about real estate, preserving assets, and other practical matters as the need for long-term nursing care begins to loom on the horizon. To be most effective from an asset preservation perspective, this planning needs to take place 5 years before a Medicaid application.
Medicaid Eligibility and Application
Medicaid’s eligibility rules are complicated and there are often solutions that an attorney can take advantage of to protect as many assets as possible while still expediting Medicaid qualification. If you are about to apply or have questions about eligibility, feel free to request a consultation.
Guardianships and Conservatorships
Sometimes a loved one can no longer care for themselves or for their property. Depending on the circumstances, sometimes the only solution is initiating a court proceeding to appoint someone to make these decisions. A guardian makes decisions concerning the person’s health, and a conservator manages property and finances. Due to family circumstances, such proceedings are sometimes contested.
Probate and Estate Administration
Probate, Estate Administration
Probate is the court-supervised process of administering an estate under a will or according to default rules when there is no will. In addition to filing the will itself, an inventory of the estate property, and various accountings need to be approved by the local commissioner of accounts until the final distributions are made. If you have been named executor in a will or are an heir at law of someone who passed away without a will and need guidance, request a free consultation today.
Small Estate Services
For relatively small estates, court-supervised estate administration can often be avoided. If a loved one has recently passed away with a small estate, please request a consultation and see if you can avoid a full estate administration.
A fiduciary is someone in a position of trust that acts for the benefit of someone else. If you need a third party conservator, executor for your will, or some other fiduciary role filled for either you or a loved one, request a consultation today.
Working with the Attorney
Tech-savvy clients can take advantage of the secure client portal to send confidential communications, receive drafts of documents for review, obtain current invoices, and more.
Clients are always welcome to call. If the attorney is not available, he will return your call at the earliest opportunity.
Follow-up appointments for review of documents and more extensive questions are always included in flat fee estate planning packages.
Clients not comfortable with using an internet client portal can always have documents mailed or faxed to them instead.
The Estate Planning Process
We determine your estate planning goals and discuss the best means of obtaining those goals. The attorney-client relationship is formalized at this point with a Letter of Engagement.
Drafting & Review
First drafts of documents are prepared and sent to the client for initial review. Follow-up appointments are scheduled if necessary to answer questions and address changes that may need to be made.
When the draft documents are finalized, it is time for execution. Most documents require notarization and some require additional witnesses.
Once estate planning documents are executed, there are usually important steps for the client to follow through on, such as re-titling assets or ensuring beneficiaries are properly designated on accounts.
Other Elder Matters
At the initial consultation, we determine what your legal needs are and whether we should proceed formally as attorney-client.
Depending on the nature of the matter, we will determine a timeline and task-list of what needs to be done to complete the undertaken representation.
As the matter moves along, updates will be provided as appropriate and clients are always welcome to make inquiries about the current status.
When the matter is concluded, a final invoice and closing letter will be delivered to the client along with any unearned retainer funds deposited with the attorney.
Fees and Payment
Two Convenient Locations: Old Town Winchester & Historic Strasburg
Metered parking is located in front of the Winchester Office.
Free street parking is available on King Street in Strasburg and additional public parking is located at the Strasburg town offices.
Please note that the Winchester Office is located in the historic Seymour House, a colonial property dating to the late 1700s, which, unfortunately, is not wheelchair accessible.
For wheelchair access, please schedule an appointment at the Strasburg Office.
Strasburg Office (Main Office)
150 E KING ST, STRASBURG, VA 22657
143 W BOSCAWEN ST, WINCHESTER, VA 22601-4115
TEL: (540) 686-1203
FAX: (540) 466-1203
lawyer @ shenandoahestatelaw.com
Monday-Friday 9 AM- 5 PM
Closed Federal Holidays
(Please schedule all appointments in advance- the attorney may be at the other office, with a client, or otherwise occupied, and we would not want to miss you!)
Schedule an Appointment Right Here
About Vincent J. Mata,
Attorney and Counsellor at Law:
Vincent J. Mata is the founding attorney of Shenandoah Estate Planning & Elder Law PLC. He and his wife and two sons are residents of Warren County, Virginia and parishioners at St. John the Baptist Church. When Vincent is not practicing law, he can usually be found pursuing small-scale agricultural projects such as raising chickens, growing an orchard, or raised bed gardening.
Vincent J. Mata is admitted to practice law in both Virginia and West Virginia. He is also admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.
Vincent J. Mata began his higher education in 2001, attending the University of Notre Dame and later the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum for undergraduate studies in the classics and philosophy. He obtained a Master’s degree in philosophy at The Catholic University of America and then earned his Juris Doctor (law degree) at George Mason University School of Law (now George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School).
Vincent J. Mata is a member both of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has also been a member of the Trust & Estates Section of the American Bar Association.
Here are some useful links for clients:
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Secure Client Portal
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