I Recently Moved to Virginia. Is My Will Still Valid?

Among all of the changes that you’ll need to make when you move to a new state, voter registration, driver’s license and updating all of your bank account and credit card addresses, don’t forget your will.

There is a good chance that your current will is still valid in your new state but there might be differences in the new state’s laws that render portions of your existing will invalid. Furthermore, it’s just a good idea to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney in your new area to verify that other aspects of your estate plan are up to date as well.

Moving to a new address, for example, also means that you might need to update this information with your retirement or brokerage account or life insurance policy. This will make it that much easier for your beneficiaries to reach out to these important account managers in the event something happens to you.

Another reason to have your estate plan reviewed is if you move from a common law state to a community property state or vice versa. Since property laws can vary from one state to another, you want to verify that the current aspects of your estate plan are still accurate.

States might also have differing rules about when co-owned property is eligible to pass to the surviving owner and when it can pass under the will. You might also wish to speak with your new estate planning attorney about whether there’s any language you can add to your new will to make probate easier for your loved ones. Schedule a consultation today with a trusted estate planning lawyer in Virginia Beach, VA.    

 

Is There Any Property That Should Be Left Out of a Will?

Not all property will be passed on as a result of what’s listed in your last will and testament. You’ll need to consider including and excluding the right assets by partnering with a trusted estate planning lawyer to help you.

There are several different kinds of property that you should expressly leave out of the last will because it must be designated or managed in another way. These assets don’t go through the formal Virginia probate process. This includes:

  • Transfer on death property such as vehicles, real estate, bonds and stocks, which will pass automatically to a named beneficiary if you have taken that step.
  • Annuity proceeds or life insurance policies, since the individual listed as your beneficiary will automatically receive these payments.
  • Proceeds from retirement plans, 401(k)s, IRAs and pensions, which will pass directly to the beneficiary named on forms.
  • Pay on death bank accounts.
  • Property held inside a living trust.
  • Property held with a right of survivorship.

The general answer for what goes into your will is everything outside of these expressly named assets. If you are curious about what to include in your overall estate planning inventory and what other documents besides a will you might need to support you, set aside time to speak with a trusted estate planning lawyer. Our Virginia Beach law office can help you keep everything organized when it comes to your estate plan and the assets inside.

Can My Executor Change My Will?

Your will is referred to as a “last will and testament” for a reason: so long as it’s legally valid, in the vast majority of cases, it cannot be changed by an executor after you pass away. Your will is your opportunity to share your plans and intentions so that they can be handled properly and quickly after you pass away.

Getting that “final say” is a big reason why most people do estate planning in the first place. Although your executor will be responsible for handling the terms of your will and managing assets that pass on to your beneficiaries through it, your will can only be handled and administered by the executor, not rewritten or updated per the executor’s wishes.

The executor does still play a critical role in the management of the estate, however. For example, this person must gather all of the assets and inventory to determine how many assets there are left over for beneficiaries in the first place. If there are substantial debts, this might mean that the amount passed on to heirs is less than the heirs expect.

Furthermore, if the will is not entirely clear, it falls to the executor to determine what the will means. This is a big reason why many personal representatives or executors end up hiring outside probate help in the form of an attorney to ensure that they handle these important responsibilities under the ethical and legal guidelines for estate administration.

Although your executor will not be someone who rewrites, tears up, or amends your will, this should still be an individual you trust and one in whom you’re willing to place your confidence. Discuss your needs with a Virginia Beach estate planning attorney today.

 

 

Is My Will Valid in Virginia?

Every estate planning document has its own execution requirements in order for it to be viewed as valid in Virginia. A typewritten will typically must be signed in the presence of two witnesses. However, there is no existing requirement in Virginia that those witnesses be disinterested.

A typewritten will could still be classified as valid in Virginia even in the event it is signed without witnesses, but it is essential for clear and convincing evidence to be present in these instances to prove in court after the person who has made the will has passed away. Typewritten wills are typically associated with a notarized sworn statement called a self-proving affidavit.

The self-proving affidavit is not required for the will to be valid, but it can make it much easier for the will to be admitted to probate in Virginia after the will creator has passed away. If the will is completely in the creator’s handwriting and signed, this handwritten or holographic will could still be valid in Virginia. The testator’s handwriting does have to be proved by at least two disinterested witnesses, even though holographic wills are not required to have a notary or witness to be valid. Many trust agreements in Virginia are signed by the person putting the property in trust and then the trustee.

Durable powers of attorney have to be signed for validity in Virginia. Advanced medical directives in Virginia typically need to be signed before two witnesses although there is no requirement that these witnesses be disinterested. Schedule a phone consultation with a Virginia Beach estate planning attorney today to learn more and to complete a review of your existing will or begin a conversation about creating a new one.

You Need to Have a Will Regardless of Your Age

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve just turned 18 or are approaching turning 100, it’s still important to be able to tell people what your wishes are in the event that you cannot tell them on your own. It’s all too easy to put off these important decisions like purchasing life insurance or writing a will by thinking, “Oh, I can worry about that tomorrow.”

But what if tomorrow ushers in an emergency that neither you nor your family expected? Tools like a life insurance policy, a living will, and your last will and testament provide important documentation in the event of a possible worst-case scenario.

The problem is that even though many people recognize the benefits of having a will, an annual study done by caring.com shows that only 32% of adults in a recent study admitted that they have a will, which is a 25% decrease from the number of people who responded in 2017.

A will is simply your legal document that allows you to express your wishes to family members in the event that you are unable to express them, such as when you pass away.

In order for the will to be legally valid, it should be signed in front of witnesses and those witnesses should be people who do not benefit from the contents of the will. It is also a good idea to have the witnesses sign the will in the presence of a notary which can prevent witnesses from having to testify in court if there are any questions over the validity of the will.

Schedule a consultation with a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer to learn more about why you need a will and a few other important estate planning tools.

 

 

What is the Difference Between a Living Will and a Healthcare Proxy?

A living will enables you to state your wishes for end of life care whereas a health care proxy allows you to enable another person to step in and make medical decisions on your behalf. A health care proxy might also be referred to as a health care power of attorney and it is a document in which you enable your power of attorney agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. It’s a good idea to have both of these documents in your estate planning.
The specific rules for each of these documents will vary from one state to another so it’s important to consider what state you claim residency in. Both of these documents enable you to have some level of control over what happens to your future if something happens to you.
A living will would become activated if you do not wish to be resuscitated or if you reach a medical condition upon which doctors believe it is not going to be possible for you to recover. A health care proxy, however, enables this individual to have even greater levels of decision-making power based on you becoming incapacitated.
If you were suddenly incapacitated for a period of several days because you were involved in a car accident, for example, your power of attorney agent would be able to make decisions about your health care needs and concerns. This is why it is important to establish only an individual you truly trust in such a role.
A consultation with an experienced attorney is instrumental in helping you to define whether or not the agent you have established is appropriate for estate planning purposes and your individual needs.
Make sure you sit down with your lawyer to discuss all of the aspects and choices available to you so that you can arrive at a conclusion that is most suited to your individual concerns.
You should fully trust the person who is established as your power of attorney agent or you certainly hope that this agent never has to take action and represents your best interests. It’s a good idea to have such a plan established already because you cannot plan too much for the inevitable. Talk to your VA estate planning lawyer now.
 

How to Prepare to Write Your Will in Virginia

A will is a document that has far-reaching impacts, so it’s important to think carefully about what information you need before you get started. The right will can ensure that the proper person gets guardianship of any children, too.

Your will is truly the last statement you make to the world, so it goes beyond naming who gets which of your belongings. While you can make updates to your will throughout the course of your life, the terms of your will remain fixed after you pass away.

Your will should be created in line with the laws of your state of residence. To make a will in Virginia, you need to consider the following steps:

  • List out all of your property
  • List out any and all debts that you owe
  • List potential heirs who you might want to receive something that you own (include both the first and the last names)
  • Line up the assets on your list with the right heir. You do not have to distribute your belongings equally or give something to every person
  • Consider whether or not any conditions might apply to certain gifts and whether or not a trust is a better vehicle for passing those on than your will in Virginia
  • Choose a guardian for any minor children
  • Review this list to make sure you haven’t missed any details

Many people overlook the opportunity to discuss your intended plans with a lawyer, but this can be a big help when you’re concerned about many aspects of your estate plan. An attorney can review your details and point out any information you missed and whether or not there are other and better ways to accomplish your specific goals.

Don’t wait to reach out to a lawyer about creating your will in Virginia. It’s an important first step towards protecting your future.

How to Prepare to Write Your Will in Virginia

A will is a document that has far-reaching impacts, so it’s important to think carefully about what information you need before you get started. The right will can ensure that the proper person gets guardianship of any children, too.

Your will is truly the last statement you make to the world, so it goes beyond naming who gets which of your belongings. While you can make updates to your will throughout the course of your life, the terms of your will remain fixed after you pass away.

Your will should be created in line with the laws of your state of residence. To make a will in Virginia, you need to consider the following steps:

  • List out all of your property
  • List out any and all debts that you owe
  • List potential heirs who you might want to receive something that you own (include both the first and the last names)
  • Line up the assets on your list with the right heir. You do not have to distribute your belongings equally or give something to every person
  • Consider whether or not any conditions might apply to certain gifts and whether or not a trust is a better vehicle for passing those on than your will in Virginia
  • Choose a guardian for any minor children
  • Review this list to make sure you haven’t missed any details

Many people overlook the opportunity to discuss your intended plans with a lawyer, but this can be a big help when you’re concerned about many aspects of your estate plan. An attorney can review your details and point out any information you missed and whether or not there are other and better ways to accomplish your specific goals.

Don’t wait to reach out to a lawyer about creating your will in Virginia. It’s an important first step towards protecting your future.

How Do Wills Get Probated in Virginia?

The county in which the decedent passed away is the primary place that the paperwork will be filed to probate a will. The probate process is handled by the circuit court in that county.

Probate is typically required in Virginia when the estate’s assets total more than $5,000, so streamline procedures might be available for those with small estates. The first step in probating a Virginia estate is to contact the circuit court clerk in the appropriate county and schedule an appointment to meet him or her.

A certified copy of the death certificate and the original will should be brought with these. The second step is to take an oath of office as an executor of an estate and post a bond. The bond has to equal the value of the estate to ensure against any wrongdoing if the executor is not the only beneficiary in the will.

The third step is to send written notice to all heirs and beneficiaries and then to secure the testator’s property and gather all assets. The next stage of the process is to determine who the testator owed money to and making those payments prior to distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries of that will.

Some executors might find this process overwhelming, especially if they were also closed to the deceased. Going through grief and the formal steps of estate administration is a tall order for anyone. It’s one of the reasons why many executors choose to partner with an attorney to help guide them through the process. If you’re just now naming your executor, make sure you consider the person’s interest and ability in serving in such a role. Your Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer can help.

Can I Use A No Contest Clause in My Will?

It’s a good idea to think about who you want to include and potentially who you want to exclude in your estate planning process. If you are concerned that someone might challenge the validity of your will in court after you pass away, you might be interested in speaking with your Virginia estate planning lawyer about adding a no contest clause to your document.

A no contest clause in a Virginia Beach willl simply states that if a beneficiary under a will or trust challenges the validity of that document that party forfeits his or her rights to take under the trust or the will. According to Virginia law, no contest clauses are strictly construed and strictly enforced. This means that the courts do not interpret them to be any broader than their terms provide but that they are strictly enforced even if numerous people are caused to forfeit their inheritances as a result.

In the event, that a party challenges a trust or a will that includes a no contest clause in Virginia Beach and is successful in that challenge, the court then declares that document to be invalid and of no effect. Any party who is thinking about challenging a will or trust with a no contest clause inside must carefully consider the important choice here.

Not taking any action and taking an estate plan that they believe to have been created due to a lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, duress or fraud or risk challenging the will and potentially lose the inheritance if the challenge is unsuccessful. Including a no contest clause can give you piece of mind in your planning. Find a Virginia Beach estate planning attorney who knows how to help you with your will and other key estate documents today.