Author: Melinda Nichols

  • By Melinda Nichols
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Boys Home Executive Director Speaks to Residents at Brandon Oaks

Dr. Donnie Wheatley, executive director of Boys Home of Virginia, spoke to a gathering of Brandon Oaks residents on August 18, 2021. Resident Calvert de Coligny arranged the event and invited Bishop Arthur Heath Light to introduce Dr. Wheatley. Wheatley, who has been in his position for 36 years and was also a student at Boys Home in his youth, gave a synopsis of Boys Home through the years and described what it is like on campus in the present day. Opportunity was given for attendees to ask questions. Boys Home is grateful to Mr. de Coligny and Brandon Oaks for the occasion to spread the word about the work that takes place at Boys Home.

  • By Melinda Nichols
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Estate planning often gets put on the list of things we should do but aren’t particularly drawn to do! The following article is an example of a conversation that might help you get started on following through with making a comprehensive estate plan. It starts with a conversation—and a list. We hope this information is helpful as you get started. For more information, visit

 September 2021

What Do You Own?

John and Helen have been thinking about updating their estate plan. They called and made an appointment with their attorney, Clara.

John and Helen updated Clara on their current family situation. They have three children who are now on their own and successfully pursuing careers. After listening to the short update on the three children, Clara turned to a review of John’s and Helen’s property.

Clara: “Before we update your plan, we need to make sure we have a complete list of your property. Let’s start with a few questions. Do you have a home? Are there bank or security accounts?”

John: “Well, we do have our home. It’s in both of our names. There is our joint checking account and a savings account. Both of us also have some other accounts. I have one savings account with myself and our son Bill. Helen has a savings account with our daughter Susan and another one for Helen and our daughter Linda. We have some mutual funds with a large financial company. I think that’s in both our names.”

Clara: “That’s a very good start. Now most people also have a pension or retirement plan and some life insurance. Do you have both of those?”

John: “Yes, I have a 401(k) at my work and Helen has an IRA. She had a 401(k) at one time and we rolled it over into an IRA when she changed jobs. I have a life insurance policy and I think it pays Helen $300,000 if something happens to me.”

Clara: “So you have a life insurance policy. Do you know if it is a whole life, universal life or a term insurance plan? If it is a whole life or a universal life, it probably has a certain amount of cash value now.”

John: “I am not real sure but it probably is a whole life plan. We bought the policy about ten years ago and I make payments every month.”

Clara: “Is there any other real estate or other securities accounts?”

Helen: “When my dad passed away, he owned 640 acres of timberland. It was divided three ways between my brother, my sister and me. My share is still in my name. We don’t get income from the timberland because we only cut enough timber to pay the property taxes.”

Clara: “Thanks, Helen. That’s helpful to know. What about personal possessions? You probably have automobiles, furniture, perhaps a collection of items or a recreational vehicle?”

John: “Yes, we have two cars. I think my car is in my name and Helen’s car is in her name. Of course, we have furniture in all of the rooms of our four-bedroom home. We also have an RV that we use to take trips in the summer. I think it is in both our names.”

Clara: “And are there any other types of ownership interests or business interests? Are either of you likely to receive an inheritance in the near future?”

Helen: “Yes, my mother is still living. John’s parents have passed away and we received a moderate inheritance when his mom passed away. When my mother passes away, I will probably receive some additional property. When dad passed away, half of the timberland was given to the three of us and mother has the other half. When she passes away, I would guess that the three children would each receive a third of the timberland that she owns.”

Clara: “This is a very good list of the assets. Let’s now try to estimate the values of your property. The value will not be the initial amount you paid for each property, but a general estimate of what they are worth today.”

(John, Helen, and Clara spent 20 minutes estimating the value of all of their property before moving on to discuss their debts.)

Clara: “John and Helen, there is just one more part to this inventory process. While I know you both are very careful and conservative in your financial affairs, some people have debt. Do you have a home mortgage? Is there a loan on a car or on your recreational vehicle? And do you have an ongoing credit card balance?”

John: “Yes, we do have a mortgage on the home. It still has a balance of $100,000. There is a loan on my car of about $3,000. Helen’s car is paid off and we pay off our credit cards each month.”

Clara: “Thanks very much for patiently working through the inventory with me. This is going to be very important as we make decisions about your estate plan.”

Why the Inventory Process is Important

It takes time and effort to make a list of your property. However, there are several important reasons why that property list is a crucial part of a successful plan. The list enables you to identify your assets, estimate the value, understand the best potential benefits for your children or other heirs, plan to reduce your taxes and set up goals for your children.

Identification of your property is very important. If both John and Helen pass away, the first responsibility of their executor or personal representative is to identify and list all of their assets. The inventory will be an excellent guide for the executor. Without an inventory, some assets might be forgotten, lost or eventually abandoned and transferred to state government.

Valuation is important. The values are estimates, but frequently the total value is significantly larger than you may realize. Values also need to reflect the potential reductions for liabilities. Most families are similar to John and Helen in that they have fairly modest liabilities and quite substantial total values at the time of retirement.

Benefits For Children and Other Heirs

Benefits for children and other heirs are best determined after you list all of your property values. It’s also extremely important to understand how the property is owned. Some of the property in joint ownership will be transferred under state property law to the survivor. Only the property subject to the probate process is transferred by your will.

Because many people have substantial assets in their 401(k), IRA, other retirement plan or life insurance, and these assets are all transferred by the beneficiary designation, it is essential to help your attorney know how the property is titled and who the beneficiary is of the various retirement and insurance plans. The correct beneficiary designation enables your children or other heirs to receive benefits.

Estate taxes may be applicable for those with larger estates. Because some individuals have property that may have increased in value (the timberland owned by Helen had increased greatly in value over the past 30 years), and because there may be an inheritance that increases the estate yet further, it is important to consider the potential impact of estate taxes. A good plan can save thousands and even millions in future estate tax.

A final benefit of the inventory process is that the parents now have a much clearer picture of their assets. This enables them to make decisions that will be important for deciding the amount and type of inheritance for their children. There may be specific assets, such as family heirlooms or land that should be transferred to one child rather than the others. Because parents frequently are interested in treating children equally, knowing the approximate values of the property enables them to make plans for transfer of some assets to specific children and to maintain overall fairness in the plan.

  • By Melinda Nichols
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Taylor Hicks Performs at River Bend to Benefit Boys Home of Virginia

River Bend Golf and Country Club in Great Falls, Virginia, was the site of a gathering of family and friends of Perry and Tina Williams to benefit Boys Home of Virginia. Perry is a trustee of Boys Home of Virginia, and he and his wife invited a host of people to enjoy a back porch party featuring the soulful sounds of Taylor Hicks, winner of the 2006 American Idol competition.

As Taylor entertained the crowd with a mix of guitar, harmonica, and vocals, guests enjoyed a variety of BBQ, sides, and lively conversations. The venue provided a tasty array of desserts as the concert came to a close.

Perry then introduced Donnie E. Wheatley, executive director of Boys Home of Virginia. Mr. Wheatley, once a resident of Boys Home himself, talked about the organization and the benefit it offers young men who need a second chance at success. Mr. Wheatley spoke candidly about his own path to arriving at Boys Home and the opportunity it afforded him as a young man. He went on to describe the services offered by Boys Home today and the impact the program has on the lives of students who have come through its doors for over 100 years.

Boys Home is deeply grateful to Perry and Tina for introducing so many new people to the mission of Boys Home and for their generosity in hosting the event. Events like this are excellent opportunities to share the mission of Boys Home and the progress made by students in the program.

  • By Melinda Nichols
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Linda Gordon, A Valued Volunteer at Boys Home of Virginia

For those at Boys Home, the time has come to say goodbye to Mrs. Linda Gordon as she begins a new
chapter of her life. She began her employment with Boys Home as a houseparent just less than five
years ago. The seasoned parent, grandparent, and nurse had this to say about the experience: “There
were highs and lows, and all of it was a learning experience! I found out that I didn’t have all the
answers. I just didn’t have all the answers for these boys.” What did she do then? “I asked for help,” she
admits, going on to say how Mr. Brian Jefferson, campus life manager, and the other houseparents
rallied to assist her when needs arose.

After some time passed, Mrs. Gordon felt that she should step down from that responsibility due to
health problems. She did, but transitioned to a position as a volunteer instead. In that capacity, she was
likely just as busy! As a volunteer, she assisted the part-time chaplain with discipleship classes. On
Thursdays, students knew that she would be available for prayer if they wanted to participate. One
semester, she headed up a Bible study that met Mondays through Fridays, and about 6 students
participated. She designed cooking classes to teach the boys beginning cooking skills. Occasionally, she
would invite a student over to her apartment for a homecooked meal and have them bring a friend or
two. About those meals she says, “That was a little party, and it was a lot of fun.”

Mrs. Gordon also worked to keep the clothing closet organized. She recruited a student to help her, and
together, they worked side by side to keep that area up to date. As new students arrived, she made
certain that their clothes were washed, dried, folded, and ready to wear as they began their stay at Boys

Most appreciated was the personal time she spent getting to know the residents and encouraging them.
One of Boys Home’s recent graduates makes sure he calls her every week just to check in and enjoy a
brief chat.

When asked about her most precious memory at Boys Home, Mrs. Gordon doesn’t hesitate to answer.
“Sunday School,” she says emphatically. When COVID-19 caused Boys Home to restrict travel and
outside activities, Mrs. Gordan began a Sunday School class that continued until her departure. What
was the best part about Sunday School? “Sharing Jesus with them,” Mrs. Gordon answers with a smile.

Due to her health, Mrs. Gordon decided that it was time for her to leave Boys Home in August 2021.
She looks forward to being closer to her family in Buchanan, walking the dog with her grandson, and
beginning a Bible study with some ladies in that area. For those of us at Boys Home, we’re a bit like
Winnie the Pooh when he said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
We’ll miss you, Mrs. Gordon. May God bless you as you settle into your new home.

  • By Melinda Nichols
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Boys Home Welcomes New Houseparent/Technology Specialist

Boys Home is pleased to welcome Christina Mason to the staff. A lifelong resident of Chesterfield
County, Virginia, Christina graduated from Clover Hill High School. She then enrolled in Liberty University
and was a May 2021 graduate with a major in information technology and a concentration in data
networking security.

Christina will be a houseparent and the technology specialist at Boys Home. In her time here, she has
been getting to know the different personalities of the students assigned to her cottage and is learning
how best to connect with them. She cites that she has always had a passion to work with children but
has gravitated toward technology as well. Her dual role allows her to explore both areas of interest as
she begins her new career.

In her spare time, Christina enjoys spending time outside. Despite growing up in a metropolitan area,
she finds the Alleghany Highlands and its outdoor activities quite wonderful and keeps busy exploring
new facets of the area.