FAQ About Estate Law in Virginia

  • What happens if you die without a will?

    Your probate estate is distributed under the intestate (without a will) laws of your state.

  • What does a will do?

    A will tells your Executor how to distribute your probate estate.

  • How is my property transferred at death?

    The answer depends on what type of property (real, tangible intangible) and how your property is owned (only by you? Jointly? With a beneficiary listed?).


  • I’m not wealthy, do I still need estate planning?

    Yes, if you do not want your probate estate distributed under the laws of your state to your heirs at law.

  • Do I need to create a medical directive?

    Everyone should have one!

  • What is a power of attorney?

    A document wherein you name a person as your agent to make decisions for you.

  • How often should I update my estate plan?

    (i) whenever there is a change I law that affects your estate;

    (ii) whenever there is change in YOUR life that affects your estate;

    and (iii) periodically – e.g., every 8-10 years - to ensure that the people and distribution requirements of your choosing have not changed.


  • I’m worried my family will contest my will. What can I do to prevent this?

    Adopt a Trust. Adopt terms that penalize someone that challenges the will or trust and loses. Be sure that the will or trust is what YOU want and that you sign it of your own volition, and you are competent. All of these can be maximized by retaining counsel.

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