Warrenton Estate Planning Attorneys

Plan for Your Future.

Get legal expertise in all aspects of planning for your future and providing for your loved ones. The attorneys at McCarthy & Akers, PLC, will help you create a customized estate plan to ensure your personal and financial affairs are taken care of.
Take control of your future.

When it comes to the estate planning process, you may feel like you have no control. You’ve done well in your career, but you’re not quite sure how to protect your best financial interests. You need accurate information from experts you can rely upon.

You Need Experienced Warrenton Estate Planning Attorneys

In contrast to certain legal advisors, McCarthy and Akers doesn’t make careless assumptions about what’s best for you. We’ve served our customers gladly for more than 16 years, and in that time we’ve discovered that each client is one of a kind. We take the additional time and exertion to familiarize ourselves with your circumstances, and we don’t cut corners.

Our Attorneys Will Respond to You Within 24 Hours

In our 16 years of doing business, we’ve frequently heard from customers about their disappointments with past lawyers. A lawyer who doesn’t clarify the progress they’re making, and explain the next steps to you, can cause you much unnecessary anxiety. McCarthy & Akers, however, maintains high standards of communication: we’ll respond to you within 24 hours of any message, and touch base with you frequently.

A Team of Attorneys is Better for You

The one thing better than a great estate planning lawyer is a group of extraordinary estate planning lawyers that work together. Our colleagues draw on one anothers’ experience to plan the best course of action for you. Together, we are glad to provide you with excellent legal services in Warrenton.

The Only LCPLFA Member in the Shenandoah Valley

What is "Life Care Planning" and how does it make McCarthy & Akers different?

As an elder law firm that practices Life Care Planning, we are different from other firms in our goal, our method, and our structure.

You can learn more about the LCPLFA on their website.

What You Get from Life Care Planning
Our goal is primarily the quality of life and independence of the elder, rather than the preservation of the elder's money for the next generation.
How Life Care Planning Supports Your Quality of Life
Our method is holistic rather than narrow. We can help you to navigate not only legal matters, but also broader financial, medical, and situational problems that arise in elder care.
Why Our Team is the Right One For You
In keeping with our goal and method, we've built our firm upon an interdisciplinary team, rather than upon legal specialists solely.

Our Elder Care Services Explained

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning in General

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is a process involving planning for the transfer of an individual’s property after death. It involves the counsel of professional advisors, who are familiar with your desires and concerns, your assets, and family structure.

It may involve a will and / or trust and the services of a variety of professionals: your attorney, accountant, financial planner, life insurance advisor, banker, and broker.

What is my estate?

An estate is the net worth of a person at any point in time, alive or dead. Once an individual has passed away, it consists of all property owned at death before it is distributed by a will, trust, or intestacy laws (the laws of descent and distribution). This is the sum of a person’s assets; legal rights, interests and entitlements.

An estate may contain real property (real estate, houses, or investment properties) or personal property (bank accounts, securities, jewelry and automobiles, etc.).

Do I need an estate planning attorney?

Whether or not you need an estate planning lawyer to help depends on the extent and complexity of your assets and intentions regarding administration of your estate.

While it may be possible for individuals to draft some estate planning documents on their own, it is important to consult with legal professionals to ensure that your estate is administered as you would wish.

What is the estate planning attorney's role?

A lawyer’s role in estate planning involves advising clients as to the options available and recommendations to accomplish clients’ objectives and assisting clients with drafting and implementing legal documents, including trusts and wills.

While lawyers are not required in order to plan your estate, it may be best to work with an estate planning attorney in ensure that your wishes are carried out. This is especially true if your estate is large, complex, or contains unusual assets.

What are common terms in estate planning and their meanings?
  • Beneficiary: The person or entity who receives property in accordance with a will, trust, insurance policy, retirement account, or other third-party beneficiary contract.
  • Estate Tax: A tax on the transfer of property after death. This is levied by the state and/or federal government. An estate has the obligation to pay estate tax.
  • Marital Deduction: An unlimited gift tax deduction or estate tax deduction. This type of tax law allows an individual to give assets to his or her spouse with reduced or no tax imposed upon the transfer.
  • Power of Appointment: The power granted to a person allowing him or her to dispose or designate who is to receive certain property under the will.
  • Probate: The judicial process which determines the validity of a will in a court of law and the martialing and distribution of the deceased’s estate.
  • Trustee: The individual or entity that acts as the legal owner of the trust assets. They are responsible for handling any of the assets held in trust, tax filings, and distribution of the assets according to the instructions of the trust.
  • Will: A legal document that identifies where your assets should be distributed after your death. This also gives you the ability to nominate guardians for dependent children. Without a will, the courts determine what happens to your assets and decides the legal responsibility for your kids.
What is an executor?

An executor is a fiduciary appointed by the courts to carry out the terms of the will. Typically, this person has been nominated in the will by the deceased person. There's no guarantee, however, that the nominated individual will end up being the qualified fiduciary to carry out the terms of the will.

How much does an executor get paid?

In a lot of cases, the executor doesn't get paid anything. Oftentimes, a family member will be appointed and the decedent will ask that the executor not be paid because they're doing a favor for their family, or siblings. Under the statutes, every executor is entitled to get paid if they demand payment. This is then based on a percentage of the overall estate, so the larger the estate, the more potential money for an executor to be paid. The person preparing the will can also state a fee to be paid directly to the executor, which could be different than statutory rate.

Does the spouse automatically inherit?

In most cases; yes, but not in all cases.

  • Prenuptial Agreement: In the event that there is a prenuptial agreement or a waiver of spousal benefits, then a spouse may not inherit.
  • Children from a prior marriage: In the event that there are children from a prior marriage (children of the deceased), then the new spouse may not receive a full inheritance or in some cases may receive nothing at all.
  • Contractual Wills: If the couple has what are called contractual wills, they may not inherit as well. A contractual will is basically an agreement to not take anything from their spouse's estate.
  • Divorce Proceedings: If the spouse is in the middle of a divorce proceeding and the divorce is not yet finalized, but it's clear that it would have been finalized, they may not inherit.
  • Responsible for Death: If the spouse is responsible for the death of the other spouse; for example, a murder, they wouldn't inherit.
Can a spouse be disinherited?

There are certain statutory benefits that entitle a spouse to at least a minimum distribution from a spouse's estate. A spouse can be disinherited only to the extent that they're not entitled to these benefits. So, as long as they haven't waived that minimum benefit or signed some type of prenuptial agreement that would have waived it, then they can't be completely disinherited.

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning in Virginia

Does Virginia have an inheritance tax?

No, Virginia doesn't have an inheritance tax. Families of the deceased, however, pay fees which would equate to a tax when they file a will or go through the probate process. Avoiding probate saves a substantial amount of money, despite no inheritance tax.

How can a beneficiary disclaim or give-up an inheritance in Virginia?

To disclaim an inheritance, the beneficiary must officially communicate and give notice that they do not want a particular portion or all of their inheritance from an estate. This notice must be in writing and recorded at the courthouse, describing the estate and what portion of the estate is being given up. The share of the disclaiming beneficiary will then pass through the will or probate onto the next person(s) entitled to inherit; this could be grandchildren, siblings, or a new spouse, etc.

How does divorce affect inheritance in Virginia?
  • If the parents are divorced, one former spouse does not automatically receive anything from the other former spouse unless it's noted in the settlement agreement. Whether or not they would receive anything from the estate would be indicated in the divorce decree.
  • If one of them gets remarried, the new spouse may only be entitled to a portion of the estate if the deceased spouse had children from the prior marriage.
  • The children of the deceased may be entitled to a portion, and the new spouse may have some share in the estate as well, thereby reducing the amount given to each.
How long does probate take in Virginia?

On the short end, a quick probate can take up to four months. On the long end, it can take as long as a year or two, depending on the circumstances.

How can one avoid probate in Virginia?
  1. Not owning anything in your personal name at the time you pass away
  2. Putting assets into a trust
  3. Putting beneficiary designations on allowable assets

Someone can avoid probate by not owning anything at the time of their death. This means, either going ahead and gifting all assets to your beneficiaries during your life (so you don't own anything at the time of death) or putting them into a trust. With a trust, the legal title is in the name of the trust and not your name. So, when you pass away, there are no assets in your name at your death. By putting beneficiary designations on assets, you can avoid probate, so that those assets immediately are transferred to the beneficiary named on the beneficiary designation. These assets can be a life insurance designation, a 401K, pay on death deed, transfer on death, or bank account designation, etc.

What does probate cost in Virginia?

The cost of probate depends on the assets and the complexity of the estate, but it can typically range anywhere from $3,000 to upwards of $15,000 to $20,000. The cost of probate includes filing fees, paying the clerk, transaction costs (paying the executor to go through the process), as well as fees to pay the commissioner of accounts. Oftentimes you will need to pay a tax professional to file tax returns, pay an attorney to assist with filling out the documents properly and transferring assets properly. It can also entail costs like paying for realtors to sell property, or cleaners to clean out assets and auctioneers or appraisers to value and auction off personal property.

What is probate in Virginia?

The cost of probate depends on the assets and the complexity of the estate, but it can typically range anywhere from $3,000 to upwards of $15,000 to $20,000. The cost of probate includes filing fees, paying the clerk, transaction costs (paying the executor to go through the process), as well as fees to pay the commissioner of accounts. Oftentimes you will need to pay a tax professional to file tax returns, pay an attorney to assist with filling out the documents properly and transferring assets properly. It can also entail costs like paying for realtors to sell property, or cleaners to clean out assets and auctioneers or appraisers to value and auction off personal property.

What's a small estate in Virginia?

Any estate that has assets of less than $50,000 is considered a small estate.

What's the Virginia Small Estate Act affidavit?

In the event that there is less than $50,000 of value in the estate, rather than going through the probate process, a beneficiary or a fiduciary can fill out an affidavit stating who the heirs or beneficiaries of the state are. They then send that affidavit to whoever's holding the asset or the property of the deceased person and have them turn over the asset to the person making the affidavit. The one who makes the affidavit is responsible for distributing the property to the appropriate beneficiaries. This ultimately serves as a substitute for people going through probate.

Are surviving spouses responsible for the deceased spouse’s medical bills?

Yes and no. To a certain extent, all spouses in Virginia are responsible for the care of their spouse. There's a presumption that they are responsible for it, but there are limits, at which point they don't have to pay any more than is required. So, there are statutory and common law limits to what a spouse would have to pay. By and large, however, you are responsible for your spouse's medical costs.

You need an experienced legal team.

We understand the challenges you’re facing. That’s why we bring a team approach to solving your problem. Your needs come first. Get started now.

Schedule an Appointment.

We gather the information we need to ensure that we can effectively assist you. Simply fill out our client intake form.

Meet with an Attorney.

Meet with an experienced attorney. Get the legal advice you need. Come in and develop a plan of action.

Execute your Customized Action Plan.

We go to work for you.

Contact Information

Main Form

Please do not include confidential or sensitive information in your message.

Our firm has represented over 16,000 clients across VA & WV.

Proudly delivering service to our clients for 2 decades.


Our firms attorneys are:

  • Admitted to practice before all the Courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of West Virginia; the Federal District Court for Western District of Virginia and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
  • Members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
  • Members of the Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
  • Members of the Virginia State Bar
  • Members of the West Virginia State Bar
  • Members Winchester/Frederick County Bar Association
  • Members of the Warren County Bar Association
  • Members of the Fairfax County Bar Association
  • Members of the Prince William County Bar Association
  • Members of the Thomas More Law Center
Awards and Designations
  • Named among Virginia’s “Legal Elite” by Virginia Business Magazine
  • Lead Counsel Rated
  • Awarded the Distinguished Member designation by the Thomas More Law Center

Our attorneys have tried cases at all levels of the Virginia Courts including appeals before the Virginia Supreme Court.

  • Very Nice Environment Here.

    “ Very Nice Environment here. We got the help we needed and were pleased when we walked out.”
    Cark R.
  • I won my court case!

    “From the moment I called the office I was treated so kindly. I made an appointment for a consultation and was very pleased with that service. I did not feel rushed at all. I’m happy to say that I won my court case!”
    Jenny C.
  • Quick and efficient.

    “Good communication”
    Alan R.
  • Amazing Lawyers!

    “They answered all my questions!”
    Heather E.
Questions or Schedule An Appointment? Click to Call (540) 722-2181

Our Locations



302 W Boscawen St., Winchester, VA 22601

Front Royal

502 N Royal Ave, Front Royal, VA 22630


145 E King St., Strasburg, VA 22657


109 N Main St. Suite 201, Woodstock, VA 22664




7900 Sudley Rd Ste 806, Manassas, VA 20109


25 S 4th St. UNIT 2, Warrenton, VA 20186
Schedule An Appointment


We have high standards, and believe in delivering the best quality services.


We’ll respond to you quickly and report to you regularly.

Questions or Schedule An Appointment? Click to Call (540) 722-2181

Hours Of Operation

Mon-Fri: 9:00am-5:00pm
Saturday, By Appointment
While other law firms may see you as just a number or another case, we take the time to get to know you and understand your legal needs. We will craft a solution that works best for you.
Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Powered by Law Firm Marketing Pros
© Copyrights 2022. McCarthy & Akers, PLC. All Rights Reserved.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

chevron-down Skip to content