A will is a written document that details a person’s wishes for the distribution of their assets at their death. It typically makes a distribution of tangible personal property to a specific person or specific people and names the beneficiaries when necessary. A will also makes a distribution of remaining assets and similarly named alternate beneficiaries if necessary. Sometimes, a person makes a specific request in their will such as the distribution of certain pieces of jewelry or artwork the person wants to leave to another individual.
To be valid, a last will and testament must meet certain legal requirements. The will must be signed by the testator, the person leaving the will, and must be witnessed and signed by two uninvolved witnesses. The testator must also have the requisite capacity to sign their will. In other words, they must understand what they are doing at the time they sign their will. For more information on how the process of a will works in Virginia, call a qualified Virginia Wills attorney.
Dying Without a Will
If a person does not have a will and they die, their assets pass according to Virginia’s laws of intestate succession. Dying intestate means dying without a will. Virginia’s laws of intestate succession state that when a person dies leaving a spouse and children, one-third of the person’s assets pass to the spouse and two-thirds of the person’s assets pass to the children. If a person does not have any children, all of the assets pass to the spouse. If the person does not have a spouse or children, the assets pass to the decedent’s parents. Other laws provide for situations when a person dies leaving no surviving spouse, children, or parents.
Disadvantages of Dying Without a Will
The main disadvantage of dying without a will is that the person cannot express their wishes for the distribution of their assets. In addition to being unable to dictate the disposition of a person’s assets, they are unable to nominate who they want to serve as personal representative of their estate. This is an important aspect of leaving a will, because the person is best suited to decide who they want to be responsible for managing their affairs at the time of their death.
Steps to Avoid Dying Without a Will
One step a person can take to avoid dying without a will is to contact an attorney to begin discussing the estate plan and their wishes for after death. It is never too soon to start planning. Unfortunately, estate planning and writing a will are things that people tend to put off.
Working with an Estate Attorney
An estate attorney works closely and diligently to ensure that a person’s estate plan and last will and testament is put in place as efficiently as possible. Diligence is important as it is crucial for an estate planning attorney to make sure that a person’s wishes are accurately expressed in the last will and testament.
It is never too soon to contact an attorney about writing a will. As long as the person is an adult, it is wise to start thinking about leaving a will and how they want to distribute their assets. Often times, people decide they want to leave a will when they experience the death of a friend or family member. However, the process can begin at anytime and it is wise to begin early.