What Are the Rights of Interested Parties in A Virginia Estate?

Interested individuals is a term that is used to describe the heirs to an estate or the people who have been formally named in a last will and testament as outlined under Virginia law. There are many different common misconceptions associated with interested parties.

One of these includes if an individual is an heir then they are scheduled to inherit from the estate. A person can be named as an heir, but a trust or a will could supersede the passage of any assets going to that individual.

Anyone who is classified as an interested party in a Virginia estate must be kept informed of court required notices and should be notified when a person has been appointed to serve as an executor. A knowledgeable Virginia estate planning attorney can assist an interested person in understanding their role. Just because someone meets the grounds for being classified as an interested person doesn’t mean that they will officially be a beneficiary of the estate. This also does not mean that you are required to be kept informed of all of the details of what is going on with the estate and the assets inside of it.

The person is only entitled to receive notices in accordance with Virginia laws when that notice is required. If you have questions about setting up your estate planning for your future heirs, schedule a consultation today with an experienced estate planning lawyer.  



Does a New Virginia Resident Need to Update Their Wills?

Welcome to the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is a wonderful and beautiful place to live and it’s easy to get caught up in the hubbub of moving and forget some of the most important aspects of your personal life that should be handled properly as soon as you wind up in Virginia.

You’ll need to sign your lease or store the deed ownership documents for your new home and consider updating your vehicle’s registration, your car insurance, permanent address and your driver’s license. But don’t neglect some of the most important things that need to be updated when you relocate to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Federal tax laws remain the same, meaning that some aspects of your estate plan might not be affected at all. However, there are substantial differences in the laws from one state to another.

Unintended consequences and unexpected expenses can often occur when estate planning documents that were specifically created for another state are used in another. Certain states across the country have their own state’s estate tax, for example.

If your estate plan was created in accordance with that and you have recently relocated to Virginia, scheduling a consultation with a competent estate planning attorney can help to verify that your estate planning documents are updated with proper addresses and other critical details.



Are There Any Problems with Having Multiple Versions of a Will in Virginia?

Estate planning that transfers into estate administration and probate can be especially complicated in cases involving multiple wills. Many area residents have taken the time to draft a will, because these estate planning documents serve as an important way to determine how assets are distributed after the creator passes away. Multiple wills can be a shock for a family, however, especially when they are discovered by different people in Virginia.

No matter where you live in Hampton Roads, you should understand the importance of keeping their planning documents updated throughout the course of their life, such as with a new marriage, the birth of a grandchild, or a divorce.

Virginia wills can also be updated to alter the recipients of certain assets, so it is not unheard of to have multiple versions of a will.

However, the issue, as far as probate administration when it comes to multiple wills, is that the testator might not have all their assets distributed according to their individual wishes. It is the court’s responsibility to analyze these various versions of a will and to determine the most recent version for distribution of assets. Anyone who has multiple versions of a will should destroy the previous versions to eliminate the possibility of confusion on their death. A will contest can still be raised by an applicable family member when multiple wills are in existence.

These issues can occur within a family due to claims of undue influence, fraud or other valid reasons. This can be an emotional time that causes further family conflicts and problems. Scheduling a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney about your Hampton Roads will is important for moving forward with your next steps.

What You Need to Know When A Sibling Contests A Parent’s Will

It goes without saying that the death of a parent is one of the most complicated times in your life, and this loss can lead to significant riffs among siblings. Unfortunately, the distribution of assets can be one reason that causes conflict between you and your siblings.

Can You Contest a Will for Any Reason?

You need to understand the grounds of a will and what it means to challenge the validity of this document. If a sibling believes that there are reasons to classify the will as invalid, he or she can initiate a will contest.

A last will is a legal document that cannot be easily overturned without significant proof indicating that there are reasons to invalidate the will. This means that just because your sibling contests the will doesn’t mean he or she will be successful. Furthermore, contesting a will is time consuming and expensive, and it might just take your sibling meeting with a probate dispute lawyer to understand the stakes involved to make another decision.

Who Can Contest a Will?

Wills can only be contested by children, spouses or people who are mentioned in the will or a previous version of the will. When any one of these individuals notifies the court of a will contest, the official legal procedure will begin.

A sibling or anyone else cannot have the will overturned or thrown out simply because he or she believes it’s unfair, they’re mad at you personally, because the parent verbally stated they would do something different, or because they feel left out. If there is a valid legal question about the legality of the will, this is the only time that a sibling is able to challenge the process under which the will was created or the document itself.

A last will and testament is assumed to be valid by the probate court, so long as it is submitted in the proper format and has no will contest associated with it. You may need to retain your own probate dispute attorney if you have to fight back against a sibling who is arguing that the will is invalid.

Need help with your estate planning? Talk to a Virginia estate planning attorney now.

What to Do If You Want to Exclude a Child from The Will

Having the estate planning process nailed down with the support of an experienced attorney, you might have questions that you are uncomfortable bringing up with your lawyer. One such question includes whether or not it makes sense to exclude a particular child from your will.
While the vast majority of estate plans give all of the assets to the spouse and then to the children, not every plan has to follow this type of testamentary distribution trend. If you wish to exclude a child or some other relative from your will, you are certainly free to do so. While it might go against the norm of what most people are doing with their estate planning, it doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate or wrong in your particular situation.
It simply means that you are recognizing a unique family dynamic and deciding that passing things on equally is the right thing to do. Deciding to exclude someone from your will could increase the chances of a will contest or a will challenge down the road. Having your documents properly drafted with the support of an experienced attorney can greatly decrease the chances that someone will be eligible to bring forward a will contest years into the future.
However, this is why you want to work only with an experienced and dedicated lawyer who has an understanding of your unique situation and can help to advise you of ways to avoid common missteps and problems. These problems could eventually turn into significant issues down the road when your loved ones, whom you intended to receive material are faced with a delayed probate proceeding because someone initiated a will challenge. Consulting with a lawyer helps to decrease the chances of these issues and empowers you with the chance to ask many of your questions about the estate planning process in general.     

When Is Your Living Trust Better Than a Will?

Do you only have a handful of documents set up for estate planning purposes? If so, you’re like most people who don’t realize that your will probably doesn’t go far enough to protect your interests. Having a living trust is a great way to incorporate additional planning opportunities into your big picture to ensure that you’ve considered the whole scope of everything. 
In some situations, a living trust is a better place to incorporate these estate planning concerns. Talking a lawyer begins this conversation and ensures that you’ve considered all the factors that belong in your ultimate trust. Once your lawyer has reviewed what you hope to accomplish, you’ll be in a better place to move forward with your entire estate plan.
A living should be a cornerstone of your estate planning toolkit if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • You have a surviving spouse
  • You are a senior with significant assets
  • You have a family to support even after you pass away

There is good chance that you might already have considered the basic benefits of having a will but a will is not enough if you need to accomplish these additional goals. A living trust or revocable trust many be a better tool instead. Living trusts were created specifically to fix the issues that are often tied to a traditional will.
The first thing that makes a revocable trust different from other types of trust is that it can be changed or dissolved base on the wishes of the person who created it. Rather than having your estate go through the process of probate, wherein the court has temporary possession of all of the assets inside, you can use a living trust to ensure a smooth and seamless transition of these assets.
You might be concerned that your final wishes surrounding property won’t be honored with a living trust. However, a trust is stricter than a will when it comes to ensuring that appropriate requirements are met. A trust can also handle more specific concerns that you wish to be carried out on a regular basis.
Another benefit of a living trust is you can establish your inheritor trustee as your power of attorney. To put together a living trust, you will want to first discuss this opportunity with the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer.

Use Your Will to Ensure That Your Wishes Are Followed

When facing the death of a loved one, the last thing any family members want to worry about is dealing with an estate and going through probate. If you don’t have a plan in place, then your individual state and the court system comes up with a plan for you. 
Your property will eventually go to someone, but without an estate plan and a proper will in place, the court is responsible for determining what’s best for that property, not you. This means that the property handed down legally through the court’s determination may not go to who you want. Your beneficiaries can be named inside an estate plan. A will also allows you to put together the name of a guardian for your minor children and the executor of your estate. The guardian can be one of the most crucial decisions you make legally if something were to happen to you and your spouse.
If you have no will but all of your assets have the beneficiary designation enlisted on them, the fact that you don’t have a will won’t have any impact on your property, but this relates primarily to assets such as your retirement plan and life insurance policies where you’ll need to establish your beneficiaries separately.

Want to Settle Scores with Your Will? Here’s Why You Should Skip It

Although it can be difficult to come to terms with the management of your estate and family members that you wish to disinherit, using your will to settle a score and leave in specific clauses that make things more difficult for your loved ones is not always recommended. If you do desire to disinherit someone in your will, there are ways of doing this without adding fuel to the fire.
Your will is an opportunity to bring order for what can be a confusing and difficult time for your family. The moment can be further complicated if you take one last swing by trying to settle a score.
People will get the picture when you intentionally disinherit or acknowledge them. It’s not easy to approach the process of estate planning when there are numerous challenges and difficult family situations involved, but a tactful estate planning attorney can help walk you through this process in a way that accomplishes your goals without making things work.
If you have final issues with your loved ones as you put together an estate plan, it’s better to not mention them at all. Otherwise, you risk adding more fuel to the fire when your other family members are grieving your loss.
Be aware that without proper estate planning tools, some aggravated “beneficiaries” may try to argue that your will is not valid, causing disputes with other loved ones as your case moves into the court system.
Set up a time to talk through your concerns with an experienced VA Beach estate planning lawyer.

Some Wills Have a Way of Making People Laugh

Senior couple sitting on grass together relaxing

Senior couple sitting on grass together relaxing

Not everyone takes a grim approach when it comes to the Grim Reaper.
A delightful website based in the United Kingdom focuses on last wills in which a bit of whimsy or human or error or outrageous personality comes shining through. kstock
Among them:
“Anthony Scott, in his last will and testament wrote, ‘To my first wife Sue, whom I always promised to mention in my will. Hello Sue!’ ” 
“One well-meaning will maker gave a legacy to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Birds. By bizarre coincidence, Frank Clifford’s last will and testament included a legacy to the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals.”
Other examples on the site include the man who left money to his employer to purchase a book on manners.
And then there was a rather strange religious last will and testament.
“Norman Earnest Digweed’s will entered the hall of famous wills when he directed that his estate of £26,000 be placed in trust for 80 years for Jesus Christ should he return within that time. Quite a number of people came forward to claim the estate which nevertheless passed to the crown after the 80 years was up in 1977.”
The website, for all the humor it derives from the odd, error-prone or bitter final wishes, does conclude on a serious note.
“Wills can be a laugh, but what is more worrying is that many people procrastinate with their wills. Thousands of people die each year without having made their wills. And in many cases, the state will benefit while their families and friends lose out. Start to make a will now so your loved ones don’t miss out.”

Some Approach Wills With a Bit of Whimsy

Last Will Concept

Last Will Concept

Deciding who gets what and what goes where after a person dies is generally a pretty solemn undertaking.
But not always.
Some folks are able to take a more lighthearted approach when it comes to a last will and testament, and history abounds with some fascinating examples, according to the website listverse.com.
“While most wills are left in order to make certain that our financial affairs are taken care of after our death, some people have used them to make political points, or just for a bit of a laugh,” according to an article on the site . The Roman poet Virgil, for instance, initially wanted his epic Aeneid destroyed upon his death because he had not completed all planned 24 books of the work.
“When his friends found out, they managed to finally convince him to remove the request from his will,” the site states. “He consented and the poem was published to great acclaim.”
In his will, Charles Dickens demanded that the mourners “who attend my funeral wear no scarf, cloak, black bow, long hatband or other such revolting absurdity,” according to the article.
“In addition to the above, Dickens also wrote that he was not to have a public funeral and the place and time of his funeral were not to be made public. He also requested an inexpensive and simple funeral with only three plain ‘mourning coaches.’ His requests were ignored on a grand scale. He was honored with a huge funeral cortege, with all members present in full funeral regalia. His funeral was a national event.”
Benjamin Franklin sought in his final wishes to prevent his daughter from wearing jewelry after his death. He referred to it as a “useless pastime.”
“Benjamin Franklin was one of the most admired men in the Western world in the late 18th century,” the site explains. “The reason for his odd request was that as former ambassador to France, Franklin was given a portrait of King Louis XVI in a frame studded with 408 diamonds. He left this picture and frame to his daughter Sarah with the above proviso to prevent her from removing the diamonds from the frame to make jewelry.”