Young, Single and Childless but Not Invincible — You Need an Estate Plan

If you are single and have no kids, you may think spending money on an estate plan can wait. But if you own anything of value such as a home, you may want to rethink your decision.

Imagine that you live in Reston and your parents live in California. The unthinkable happens to you and your grieving parents have to hire an attorney in Virginia to probate your intestate estate because you died without a will.

No one intentionally leaves their parents in this situation, but it happens all the time.

There are other benefits to making a will. Perhaps you have potential heirs that are entitled to receive your property if you die intestate and these potential heirs would squander any inheritance of your property.

Talking to an attorney will help identify and address how to effectively disinherit someone.

For example, it’s better to almost disinherit a person and incentivize them not to protest. For instance, if you have an estate of half a million dollars, you could leave a troublesome sibling $1,000 and combine that with a no-contest clause saying that anyone who challenges the will loses their inheritance.

Certainly, you have people in your life that you care about or maybe even a dog. How do you want them to be provided for?

Care enough to leave clear and legally rock-solid language about your wishes. If you do not leave clear instructions, your loved ones will have to navigate the complexities of the probate process while trying to grieve your loss. Think of making a will as an act of love to make life easier for those you leave behind.

Even if you are single and don’t have children, you need an estate plan. Contact us or call me at 703-712-8000 to set up a consultation and take the necessary steps to protect your assets and make provisions for the people (and things) that are important to you.


Estate Planning for the Modern Family

There are many reasons to make sure you have an estate plan after remarriage. In this brief space I will address a few.

We are all familiar with the sitcom Modern Family, and many of us live in a “modern” family.  That is because 3 out of 4 people who divorce eventually remarry.

According to data published by the Pew Research Center, 6 in 10 women in remarriages are living in what the Census Bureau calls a “blended family.”

However, we have come a long way since the Brady Bunch. Today’s modern family may have step children and step parents, but they may also include half siblings and adopted siblings.

Blended families are faced with unique challenges such as co-parenting with another family and finding balance for children who live between two homes. Planning your estate with a blended family also presents unique challenges, like how to provide for your spouse without accidentally disinheriting your biological children.

Let’s assume: 1) your spouse has children, 2) your spouse does not adopt your children, and 3) your assets consist of retirements funds and a jointly owned home with your spouse. What if according to the laws of your state, in the absence of an estate plan everything passes to your spouse? And what if your spouse dies without an estate plan and all his assets — including the ones he inherits from you — go to his children? Your children get nothing. Clearly, this is not a desirable outcome.

A better alternative is to establish a plan that provides for your children, your spouse and perhaps your spouse’s children.

For example, you may want a trust that allows your spouse to use the assets in your estate for the remainder of his life, then pass those assets to your children. Or you may wish to leave a portion of your assets to your children outright and leave the remainder to your spouse. In this scenario, you might consider who will manage your children’s assets. You might also consider a trust that protects your spouses’ children if your spouse remarries, gets sued or dies.

Other factors to consider include the impact of divorce agreements and marital property laws. If there are minor children, planning for their custody adds further complexity. Suppose you don’t want your ex-spouse to take custody of your children? What are your options?

There are many things to think about when planning an estate after remarriage. Be clear about your intentions and reach out to experts to address your concerns. Contact Global Law PLLC or call 703-712-8000 for more information about to create an estate plan for your blended family.


Reston Attorney Accused of Drunken Behavior at Seminar Has License Suspended Again for Contempt

A Reston attorney accused of boorish behavior as he drunkenly attended a legal seminar now faces an additional license suspension that will not allow him to practice law in the state well into the next decade.

Wayne Richard Hartke of Hartke Law Offices (11890 Sunrise Valley Drive) did not appear in court for a client’s preliminary hearing on Aug. 6, 2016. When he was called from the courtroom, Hartke said he did not show up because he had not been paid. The judge told him his attendance was required regardless of whether he had been paid, to which Hartke responded that he was physically unable to come in.

Hartke later said that his home had been foreclosed upon in February 2016 and that the sheriff had removed all his active files, which led to him being unaware of the Aug. 6 hearing. However, investigation determined that the case had been entered in May, meaning the sheriff could not have removed the file.

The court found that Hartke had “obstructed and interrupted the administration of justice” and he was sentenced to 10 days in jail. In its ruling last month, the Virginia State Bar suspended his license to practice law for five years because of “a pattern of misconduct by [Hartke] during his many years of practice.”

That suspension won’t go into effect until Oct. 27, 2019, after a three-year suspension that was issued last October is served. The current suspension relates to charges that were brought upon Hartke by a Virginia State Bar panel a few months after alleged drunken and disruptive behavior at a Continuing Legal Education seminar in Tysons on Jan. 8, 2014.

According to the legal account of that day’s events:

[Hartke] was a walk in registrant to the above referenced CLE program and he arrived late.

During the morning session of the program, [Hartke] sat in the back of the room and shortly after arriving fell asleep and began snoring. [Hartke’s] snoring was so pronounced and loud that the site coordinator for Virginia CLE, Ms. Hope Linzer, was alerted and had to come in to the room to wake [Hartke] from a deep sleep. During the morning session, [Hartke’s] snoring was heard by numerous attendees and was disruptive of the class.

During the afternoon session of the program, [Hartke] moved to the front of the room and began loudly talking at the video screen. [Hartke’s] outbursts were disruptive to the class and once again Ms. Linzer was alerted to the situation by another attendee, G. Burke. Ms. Linzer entered the room and asked [Hartke] to refrain from disrupting the class in this fashion. Despite this, [Hartke] continued to talk loudly at the video screen.

Because [Hartke’s] outbursts continued, he was led from the room by one of the attendees, John Primeau, Esquire. Mr. Primeau would testify that the odor of alcohol emanated very strongly from [Hartke], that he was unsteady on his feet, and that [Hartke] admitted to Mr. Primeau that he had been drinking. Mr. Burke would testify that [Hartke] appeared to be intoxicated and that he smelled of alcohol. Mr. Burke would also testify that he personally observed a bottle of liquor amongst [Hartke’s] belongings which [Hartke] had left in the back of the room following the morning session.

In a written response to the Virginia State Bar, Hartke denied the allegations. In March 2015, however, Hartke’s license was suspended six months. He was also ordered to enroll in a two-year treatment and monitoring program, called Lawyers Helping Lawyers.

In September 2016, however, LHL’s clinical director reported Hartke had missed meetings, was not participating in a support group and was not providing required updates. Following this, the State Bar suspended Hartke’s license for three years.

The consecutive suspensions mean Hartke will not be eligible to practice law in Virginia again until October 2024.

According to Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Hartke was also reprimanded in 2010 and 2011. He served a 10-day jail sentence for contempt in 2009 after showing up with a blood-alcohol content of .127 as he was representing a client in Fairfax County General District Court.


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