Dying Without a Will in Virginia

Creating a last will and testament is essential for any individual. After death, there are many assets of the deceased that need to be distributed, which can prove incredibly difficult without any sort of will to dictate such distribution. There are many disadvantages to dying without a will, which is why it is important to make sure you contact a Virgina Wills Attorney to help you best prepare for the future. It is only then that you can be certain that your assets and trusts are disposed exactly to your liking.

Determining Asset Distribution

The last will and testament is the expression of an individual’s wishes for the distribution of his or her assets upon his or her death. Often, a last will and testament also includes the nomination of a personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate, and provides specific authority to the personal representative or executor that outlines the terms by which the decedent’s assets should be held in trust or distributed onto named beneficiaries.

If a person dies without a last will and testament, the laws of intestacy for the Commonwealth of Virginia serve as the default rules for who may serve as the executor of the estate, and how the assets of the estate will be distributed.

Deceased Without a Will

One disadvantage of dying without a will is relying on these default rules. If an individual has minor children who are set to receive assets pursuant to the laws of intestacy, then an additional proceeding may be required. At this proceeding, a guardian will be appointed such that an adult can receive assets on behalf of the minor children. However, when there is proper estate planning in place, it is possible to create a trust for minor children so that this second court proceeding can be avoided.

Often, when there has not been any estate planning prior to death and an individual dies without a last will and testament, issues that could have been sorted out or planned for prior to death unfortunately plague the estate administration, and can increase the costs of the administration or the exposure of the estate to estate tax liability.

Additionally, when individuals die without a last will and testament, there is sometimes disagreement regarding who will serve as the executor or personal representative of the estate. This can cause delay in opening the estate and the administration of the estate. Generally, intestate estates may also be more subject to family disputes.

Benefits of an Attorney

To avoid the disadvantages of dying without a will, a person can speak with an estate and trust attorney immediately who can advise him or her of the current applicable estate laws and taxes. A lawyer can help him or her to create a plan for the distribution of his or her assets at death. The most important step a person can take right now to avoid dying without a will is to speak with an experienced attorney who can review all estate planning options that are available to him or her.

Furthermore, there is no bad time to discuss creating a last will and testament with an estate and trust attorney. Many individuals commonly think that they need a certain level or complexity of assets to speak with an attorney about drafting a last will and testament. However, in reality, most individuals over the age of 18 can benefit from speaking with an attorney to understand what their options are for estate planning. More importantly, such a discussion can help to ensure that an individual’s wishes are properly expressed such that his or her last will and testament is valid in the eyes of the law before he or she passes away.

Contacting an Attorney

Commonly, marriage, home ownership, children, and retirement are triggers for estate planning. However, some of the most difficult estates are cases involving decedents who were not married and had no children, as such circumstances involve gray areas in relation to who may be entitled, able, or willing to serve as the representative or executor of the decedent’s estate. Moreover, in such circumstances, the decedent’s assets are often passed on to family members he or she may not have wished to receive his or her assets. It is important to contact an experienced attorney, so the disadvantages of dying without a will can be avoided

An estate and trust lawyer can assist with the preparation of the last will and testament, and can also serve to ensure an individual has not properly executed this document pursuant to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.