Revocation of a Will in Virginia

A will is an estate planning document that allows you to name who you would like to receive your assets upon your death. After you execute a will, you are able to revoke the document and replace it if you wish. Speaking with a distinguished trusts and estates attorney could help you gain peace of mind when considering the revocation of a will in Virginia.

What Would Cause a Will to be Revoked?

Although there are several requirements that must be observed when executing a will, the process for revocation of a will in Virginia is much less formal. The testator may revoke a will by an act of physical destruction such as:

  • Tearing
  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Shredding

Revocation of a New Will or Codicil

A will can be revoked by executing a subsequent will or codicil. The new will or codicil typically states that it revokes all prior wills and codicils. A codicil is a document that amends, adds to or revokes a portion of the existing will. If the individual executes a codicil revoking a portion of their will, they should keep it with the will making sure that the will is not disposed of.

The will holder may revoke a codicil without revoking their will. To avoid confusion that can arise with the creation and revocation of multiple codicils, they may opt to execute a new will instead.

When to Review a Current Will

As family dynamics shift through the years, it is normal for someone to want to update their will and revoke their existing one. They may amend or revoke their will any time prior to their deat while maintaining the requisite testamentary capacity. Upon death, the will is no longer eligible for revocation of a will in Virginia.

Many people execute more than one will during their lifetime. The individual may want to revoke their will and replace it with a new one as a result of major life-changing events such as:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Death of a beneficiary or personal representative
  • New children
  • Children reaching the age of majority
  • Acquisition of new wealth
  • Moving to a new state

Although certain events such as divorce may in effect revoke certain provisions in someone’s will pertaining to an ex-spouse, it is a good time to review the entire estate plan. If their will references specific personal property or real estate that the individual later disposed of, the individual may want to update it to remove any such outdated references.

Expectations for a Property Not Mentioned in a Will

If someone passes away intestate, meaning without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the Virginia intestacy laws. The Virginia intestacy laws essentially direct that your estate be distributed to your heirs at law. However, the intestacy laws rarely reflect your specific wishes for the distribution of your assets.

To avoid dying intestate, it is good practice to review your current documents to ensure that they are effective and adequately express your wishes.  If you do elect to revoke your will without having a new one prepared and executed, you may wish to consider executing a new will at your earliest convenience to ensure your estate will be distributed according to your wishes. If you have concerns about the revocation of a will in Virginia, please reach out to one of our estate planning attorneys.