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Wills and Estate Planning Virginia

Wills and Estate Planning Virginia

Many people never get around to preparing a will. They may think that it is too costly, they do not have enough property to justify a will, or that they can put it off because they are too young to be thinking about death. However, death is often unexpected, and the importance of having a concrete and well-drafted will cannot be stressed enough.

In Virginia, making a will is one of the most important things that you can do for your loved ones.

A will provides you with the flexibility to distribute your property as you wish. This means that you get to decide which family members or friends receive your property


The basic requirements for a Virginia last will and testament include the following:

  • Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old.
  • Capacity: The testator must be of sound mind.
  • Signature: In order to be valid, the will must be signed by the testator or by someone other than the testator in her presence and by her direction.
  • Witnesses: At least two witnesses who are also not beneficiaries and who sign in the presence of the testator and at her direction are required for a valid Virginia will.
  • Writing: A Virginia will must be in writing to be valid.
  • Beneficiaries: Virginia does not limit the class of beneficiaries who may be included in a will.

Recognized Last Wills in Virginia

In addition to the last will and testament as described above, Virginia also recognizes handwritten wills as valid legal documents. Handwritten wills are also called “holographic” wills and be entirely in the writer’s own handwriting. In Virginia, in order to prove a handwritten will in probate, two disinterested witnesses must appear to vouch for the handwriting of the testator. There are a lot of ways that a handwritten will can go wrong and be considered invalid- so they are not generally recommended.

How to Change a Will in Virginia

A Virginia last will and testament may be changed whenever the testator wants to do so through a codicil, an amendment to the will that must follow the execution procedures of wills. At Slovensky Law PLLC, we generally execute a complete new will.

What Happens if you Die without a Will

Someone who dies without a will is called “intestate,” which invokes the strict laws of intestacy. In Virginia, this means that property is distributed to the surviving spouse unless there are also surviving children who are not also descendants of the surviving spouse; as of 2017, the surviving spouse gets a share of the estate that depends on the length of the marriage. If there is no surviving spouse, the decedent’s children inherit the entire estate.

If there is no surviving spouse or children, the estate goes to the decedent’s parents, then siblings, and so forth down the line. The closer the relative, the higher the priority to inherit.

Accordingly, you can see the importance of making a Virginia will if you would like to have control over the distribution of your assets and to avoid the application of intestacy laws.

If you need assistance drafting a will or working out your estate plan contact Slovensky Law today.

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