Most people have probably heard of estate planning, but don’t really know what it is. After all, isn’t an estate a big white house with columns in the country with a lot of property and possessions? Why would you need estate planning if you didn’t have that?

The Law Office of James D Fife serves the Arlington area, including Fairfax County, with estate planning services. We are dedicated to making sure your assets are protected and distributed as you wish when you die, especially if you’re a business owner. In this blog post, we’ll go over some estate planning basics. Continue reading, and then contact us today for all your estate planning needs!


Everyone has an estate

If you own a dog, a house, a cat, property, a business, furniture, or anything else, then you have an estate. Estate planning is basically a formal term for planning for what happens to your material possessions after you pass. Everyone should discuss with an estate planning law firm, such as the Law Office of James D. Fife, what happens to their possessions after death.

Inventory what you own

Most people think they don’t own anything. But if you actually sat down and made a list of what you owned, you’d probably be shocked by the length of your list. You’ll need to write down everything you can think of, from the obvious possessions, such as your home and car, to the not so obvious possessions, such as your coins and other collectibles. The Law Office of James D. Fife in Arlington reminds you to not forget the intangibles as well, such as your savings accounts, stocks, life insurance policies, retirement plans, and more. Once you have your list down, you’ll need to roughly guess how much that all is worth if you sold it. We understand some of your items hold sentimental value, but you’ll have to think about what your items would be worth, in terms of cash value, to others.

Care of your family

Part of estate planning includes your will. In your will, you’ll want to account for your family in case something happens to you. This is especially important if you have little children. You’ll want to name who gets custody of the kids if something were to happen to you. This could avoid a very lengthy court battle in the event family members, or even close friends, disagree. Many a family has faced financial ruin because of these types of circumstances. The Law Office of James D. Fife in Arlington recommends that you lay it all out on the table and be as detailed as possible. For example, how you want the children to be raised, in what religion, and in what lifestyle are issues to be decided. This does not guarantee your wishes will be carried out, but it will take the guesswork out of it for the judge in terms of what your final wishes were.

A huge part of caring for your children after you’re gone is life insurance. Many people neglect to have a large enough life insurance policy to take care of their kids in the event that they pass. If you have a mortgage and other debt or a child with special needs care, your family will need the money to replace your income and then a lot more.


Planning your estate is not a couple hours where you sit down and iron out the details, and you’re through. Planning your estate takes many hours of careful thought and consideration and then several sessions of sitting down with your estate lawyer and putting everything in writing. Oftentimes, you will forget things, or your estate lawyer will offer up ideas for you to consider. Thus, an estate plan is usually a work in progress. As the years pass, your situation may change, your kids will grow up, and family members might die. It’s important to think of your estate plan as a living document that you can change (and will need to change) as time passes.

The Law Office of James D. Fife in Arlington can help. We offer estate planning services to help you have peace of mind about what will happen to your possessions and those in your care when you pass. Estate plans also help you manage your possessions while you are alive. Contact us today to get started!