At Altizer Law, P.C., we strive to make the preparation of your Last Will and Testament as simple for you as possible. In fact, in most cases, we can discuss your wishes for your will and other estate documents in a telephone conversation and prepare your will to incorporate the information you provide. We can, thus, prepare Virginia wills no matter where you reside within the Commonwealth. Call us today to discuss any questions you may have.
The Importance of a will in Virginia
Dying intestate (without a will) in Virginia means that the laws of the Commonwealth will dictate how your estate is distributed. If you have minor children, those laws will also determine who will be given custody of your children and allowed to raise them. Further, there will be no way for the agents of the Commonwealth of Virginia to know that it was your desire that certain assets go to particular individuals.
Distribution of your assets if you die without a will is determined by § 64.1-1 of the Virginia Code. Assets will be distributed as follows:
- To the surviving spouse. However, if you have children or grandchildren, the spouse will receive only one-third of your estate. The remaining two-thirds will be divided among all of your children or grandchildren.
- If you are divorced or if your spouse has already died, all assets go to your children.
- If there is no spouse and no children, all assets go to your surviving parent.
- If there is no spouse, no children, and no parent, your estate passes to your brothers, sisters, and descendants.
- If none of these family members are alive, distribution of your estate follows this order:
a. Grandparents (in equal parts).
b. Uncles, aunts, and their descendants (in equal parts).
c. Great grandparents
d. Siblings of great grandparents
e. The next lineal ancestor, descendant, or family relation.
Note: Any half-blood relatives receive one-half of the part that passes to a full-blood relative.
Only by executing a will can you:
- direct how your assets and possessions will be distributed after your death, and in what proportion.
- ensure an orderly transfer of your assets and possessions.
- nominate guardians for your children and make arrangements for their care and their education.
- protect the members of a second family (in the event of a prior divorce or spouse’s death).
- ensure that assets will pass to the charities of your choice.
- preserve and gift family heirlooms or items of sentimental value to the persons of your choice.
Who Should Prepare a Will?
It is a popular misconception that only the elderly and those facing imminent death need a will. Unfortunately, accidents occur every day that could result in an untimely death.
Every Virginia resident who has reached the age of majority or who controls significant assets should have a will.
Every parent should have a will in place to direct and provide for the future of their children. This is especially true if a child has special needs. If you want to decide who will raise your children or be responsible for their education and care, you need a will.
Everyone who is a caregiver or power of attorney for another person (parent, grandparent, disabled sibling or child) needs a will to ensure responsibility for their future care and needs.
Elements of a Valid Will in Virginia
The Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia directs that in order to be valid, the following characteristics must be met:
- The will must be a written document.
- You must sign at the end of the document with a valid signature.
- There must be two other witnesses of the signature.
- The original of the document must be presented at probate.
A Self-Proving Certificate can constitute proof of the will at probate without the need to account for the witnesses at that time.
A court order is required to probate a copy of a will.
Call Altizer Law, P.C.
If you are considering preparation of your Last Will and Testament, call Altizer Law, P.C. Our experienced attorneys will help you clarify your wishes and prepare for you a legal Virginia will, as well as any other estate planning documents you may require (advance medical directive, durable power of attorney, final requests, trust documents).
Preparing your will need not be intimidating or anxiety-producing. When we work for you, we listen. Only when we understand your wishes will we create a document that meets your legal needs. So, call us today.