Making a will can be a sensitive topic for many people. Some put it off, saying, “I have plenty of time to do it,” while others think that a will may not be necessary for comparatively small estates.
Having a valid will in place is a must for every adult, regardless of age and financial situation. It can prevent conflict among your heirs and help your family members avoid costly mistakes as they go through probate court.
At Commonwealth Life & Legacy Counsel, we can help you create a will that complies with Virginia law. Call us at 434.589.2958 for a free consultation.
What Happens If You Die Without a Will in Virginia?
If you die intestate (without a will), your estate passes on according to Virginia law. For example, if the decedent has a surviving spouse, the estate will generally pass to the spouse. If the decedent has both a surviving spouse and children from a former relationship, the children get two-thirds of the estate, while the spouse receives one-third. This means that your spouse may end up in a difficult “partnership” with his or her stepchildren in the home you currently own.
The problem is that intestate succession laws may not align with your wishes or family relationships. For example, let’s say that Mary has only one son, Tom. Because Tom is financially irresponsible, Mary wants to leave all her estate to Tom’s daughter, her granddaughter Susie. She can only do so with a legally valid will. Even if your intentions are the same as the law of intestate succession, a Will can make the probate process less expensive and easier for the people you leave behind.
The Benefits of Having a Valid Will
A legally valid will allows you to:
- Control the distribution of your estate
- Specify the division of family heirlooms or other special items
- Appoint guardians for your children under 18 and trustees to manage property on their behalf
- Simplify the probate process for your family
What Should a Will Include?
A will is a legal document that should include:
- Clear instructions for estate distribution to beneficiaries
- The name of an estate executor responsible for administering your will
- The names of people who will serve as guardians for your minor children
Depending on your estate plan, your will may also include instructions regarding any trusts you have set up during your lifetime or direct the executor to set up after your death. For example, you may choose to transfer some assets to a trust for the benefit of your minor children.
Do You Really Need a Lawyer to Draft a Will?
Some Virginians choose to use one of the free will templates available online, or even create a handwritten will, instead of hiring a wills lawyer’s services. While this can save a little money in the short term, it’s a risky strategy. Qualified legal counsel can help you avoid mistakes that might invalidate your will or valid will provisions that work in ways that you might not expect or prefer.
Commonwealth Life & Legacy Counsel: Estate and Wills Lawyers in Central Virginia
A valid will can give you unrivaled peace of mind and save your family a lot of trouble. Don’t put it off until tomorrow! Contact our legal team at Commonwealth Life & Legacy Counsel, trusted estate and wills lawyers serving all residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia from our offices in Zion Crossroads and Powhatan Courthouse.
PLEASE NOTE: in Virginia, a Will must be witnessed in person by two witnesses who are present at the signing of the Will and who sign in the presence of each other and the person who is making the Will. This is called “execution” of the Will and is a service we automatically include. This means that if you want us to do this work for you, you must be willing either to be present in one of our offices for that purpose or be able to supply the necessary witnesses and notary for a will execution that is convenient to your location.
If you supply your own witnesses and notary public in a location outside our offices (or even outside of Virginia), we are happy to supervise the execution of your will remotely, via Zoom or other virtual meeting platforms, or by telephone, and will not charge an additional fee for this service.