Nearly everyone should have a will. A will is a written, signed document that states the individual’s directions for the division of his or her assets at death. A will doesn’t become effective until death. Therefore, it can be changed or amended until the death or incapacity of the individual.
Reasons why you should have a will
1. Avoid Virginia’s Intestate Succession Laws. See the explanation of intestate succession below
2. You can dispose of property to in the manner of your choosing
3. You may be able to avoid estate taxes
4. Reduce administration costs
5. You get to choose your executor, the person who will administer the distribution of your estate.
Preparing Your Will
The first step in preparing your will is to prepare a list of your objectives. Second, prepare an inventory of all your property (including how the property is titled), a list of all intangible property, i.e. stock or bonds, and a list of your debts. Next you should prepare a list of the family, friends and/or organizations to which you wish to leave property. There are several requirements that must be followed to ensure your will is valid. We will draft your Will and ensure that all requirements of Will creation are followed.
Dying Without a Will
If you die without a valid will or trust then your estate will be divided and distributed according to Virginia’s Intestate Succession laws. The Court will appoint an administrator to collect and inventory your assets, pay your debts and expenses and distribute the remainder of your estate to the appropriate person(s) as determined by state law. This is where things can get confusing. For example, if you have a spouse and your children are not the children of your surviving spouse, then your spouse is entitled to one-third of your estate and your children are entitled to the remainder of your estate. However, if you are survived by your spouse and your children are also the children of your surviving spouse, then your surviving spouse is entitled to your whole estate. Don’t assume that simply because you are married that your spouse will inherit your estate. Make sure you have a valid will to ensure there are no problems with the distribution of your estate.
Changing Your Will
Your Will can be changed by revoking your previous will and executing a new will or by signing an amendment to the will called a codicil. There are some restrictions on cutting your surviving spouse out of your will. If you are looking to modify your Will, we can explain your options and any restrictions in greater detail.
Give you and your family piece of mind. Let us help you plan the distribution of your estate. Call us and we will discuss your options. Don’t leave your family and loved ones with any uncertainty.