Paula Peaden, Esq.
A former registered nurse, Paula Peaden established her legal practice over twenty-five years ago to help clients plan secure futures and leave legacies of love. Her advice benefits seniors, disabled individuals, children and adults with special needs, single and married individuals, and all types of families.
Elder Law Concerns
Seniors — or family members caring for seniors — face a myriad of concerns, from aging in place to in-home care and long-term care, from disability to end-of-life planning and wealth transfer. We offer professional legal representation and comprehensive planning to guide families and their loved ones. Our services include counsel on wills and trusts, long-term care, Medicaid, Medicare, Veteran’s benefits, and SSI (Social Security Income).
Our elder law expertise is evidenced by our ever increasing number of satisfied clients and referrals, as well as a number of recent legal industry accolades. For the last three years, the firm has received a Tier 1 ranking in Richmond for its Elder Law Practice by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® – “Best Law Firms”. Further, attorney Paula Peaden was named Best Lawyers’ 2014 Richmond Elder Law “Lawyer of the Year”. She assists individuals and families with the difficult issues that often face senior citizens and their families, including:
- Estate planning and administration, including wills, trusts, asset protection, wealth transfer, and tax advice
- Housing issues including real estate and mortgage assistance and landlord/tenant laws
- Long-term care, end-of-life planning, in-home care, assisted living and nursing home concerns
- Assistance with welfare and entitlement programs such as social security, Medicare, Medicaid, disability and Veteran’s benefits
- Advance medical directives and powers of attorney
- Disability planning
- Guardianship and conservatorship, for when an individual becomes unable to oversee his or her own personal affairs and finances
- Trusts designed to protect the financial interests of a child or other family member with a disability.
- Protection of rights and prevention of physical, emotional and financial abuse
As a person ages, and his or her faculties decline, it becomes especially important for an advocate to protect that person’s best interests.
Should Burial Arrangements Be Part of My Will?
In Virginia, each person has the right to dictate the disposition of his or her remains, whether by cremation, interment, entombment, memorialization, or some combination thereof. Though arranging your own funeral might seem strange, it is a good way to forestall disagreements about how your body is to be treated. At first glance, it may seem like a good idea to incorporate this component of estate planning in your will. However, the executor you name will not be able to act until he or she has qualified — which might not happen until weeks after your death — so your will is not a good place for you to dictate your funeral arrangement. In addition, your will probably won’t be looked at until after burial has already occurred.
As an alternative, Virginia law allows you or your lawyer to draft binding burial designation instructions. Read More
What If I Don’t Plan My Wishes and Later Become Incapacitated?
If an adult becomes incapable of making responsible decisions due to a mental disability, the court may appoint a substitute decision maker, called the guardian and conservator, to make legal, financial, and health care decisions for that person. A conservator may be appointed to handle only finances. After a petition has been filed with the court to appoint a guardian or conservator, but before the hearing takes place, the judge appoints a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem is an attorney whose role is to protect the rights of the respondent. In most cases, these proceedings can be avoided with proper planning.
Special Needs Planning
The parents of a child with special needs such as physical or mental disabilities have specific concerns when planning for their child’s future. Housing, education and healthcare are a few of the many long-term concerns. Understandably, parents want to be assured that their child’s personal and financial needs will be met after they are gone.
How Can I Protect My Loved One Financially?
A special needs trust is a type of trust that is created to ensure that physically or mentally disabled beneficiaries – both children and the elderly – can receive inheritance without compromising their government benefits such as Social Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. For some clients we establish a payback trust, which protects an individual’s eligibility for certain government benefits and still allows him or her to contribute to the trust.
Who Should Manage a Special Needs Trust?
An SNT must have a trustee who will properly manage the trust assets. The choice of the trustee is a critically important decision. In most instances, a family member will be designated as the trustee.
Estate Admin & Taxation
Our estate planning services extend to estate and fiduciary administration, financial and insurance advice, income tax planning, and general tax counsel. We can assist with bill paying, account management and reporting services related to continuing care, and we routinely serve as trustee and handle the administration of trusts and estates.
Estate Planning & Administration
We provide services relating to all aspects of estate planning and estate administration. We can help you design a comprehensive, creative estate plan to secure and transfer wealth within your family or family-owned business. Our services include:
- Formulation of simple or complete wills, advance medical directives (living wills), trusts, powers of attorney, guardianships, conservatorships and a full range of complimentary estate planning vehicles (including pet trusts)
- Serving as executors, administrators, and trustees for estates and trusts
- Guidance in naming guardians for minor children and disabled adults
- Estate reduction strategies including charitable contributions, gift planning and the formation and endowment of not-for-profit corporations
- Probate proceedings and representation including the resolution of will contests, fiduciary litigation and other estate disputes
Our broad knowledge base and extensive experience in matters of tax law, business succession, probate, real estate and family law enables us to provide comprehensive and sophisticated representation in trust and estate administration matters. We provide the following services to individuals and business entities:
- Use of generation-skipping trusts, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lien trusts, partnerships and other vehicles to produce tax savings
- Analyzing and planning for potential state and federal estate tax issues
- Tax counseling in formulating wills and trust agreements to provide the most efficient transfer of assets
- Tax filing services for executors and administrators of the estate
My Spouse Recently Passed Away. What Now?
While children have no legal right to an inheritance, in the absence of a pre or post nuptial agreement, a spouse has rights whether or not there is a will. Generally speaking, the provisions of a will control how the deceased spouse’s estate will be administered. However, Virginia law protects disinherited surviving spouses by giving them the option to take an “elective share” of an “augmented estate.” Read More
How Are Non-monetary Assets Transferred Upon Death?
Those of us who take time to plan our estates generally want our offspring to enjoy each other well after we have passed, but nothing breaks up a family faster than leaving a legacy of hate. Deciding whether to leave grandchildren or charities a monetary bequest, and what percentage to leave each child, is relatively simple. More difficult issues arise concerning a family business, land that has been passed down through generations, or a vacation home. Read more.
Americans are marrying (and divorcing) at later and later ages, and many of us have multiple generations of dependents in our care. We help clients address complex domestic law matters in a compassionate and results-oriented manner.