Proper Estate Planning In VirginiaThis article will cover:

  • Estate planning in Virginia, including the importance of having a plan in place and the consequences of not having one.
  • The different types of estate planning tools available, including wills, trusts, and advanced medical directives.
  • The common mistakes made when creating an estate plan and the importance of working with an attorney to ensure that the plan is legally valid.

What Is Estate Planning And Why Do We Need It? What Happens To Our Assets Without Estate Planning?

Without proper estate planning, if you die without a will in Virginia, your assets would go into state succession and be distributed according to the laws of the state, which may not align with your desired outcome.

With proper estate planning, however, you have the ability to dictate what happens to your assets after you pass away. You can ensure that your children and grandchildren are taken care of, and plan for the future care of loved ones with special needs.

Estate planning can often be done with the use of a trust, which is a type of will that allows for more thorough planning. Trusts can let you dictate not only who gets your assets, but also how they receive them.

What Happens To Stepchildren If You Don’t Have a Will Or Estate Plan?

If you have stepchildren and you die without a will, they will not inherit anything from your estate. Only legal heirs are entitled to inherit, and stepchildren are not considered legal heirs unless they are adopted by you or specified in your will. It’s important to include stepchildren in your estate planning if you want them to inherit from your estate. This can be done by adopting the children or specifying in your will that they should inherit from your estate.

What Is A Will And Is It Enough For Estate Planning Needs In Virginia?

A will is a legal document that is probated with the circuit court in the jurisdiction where you passed away or where you were last living before you passed. On its own, a will can distribute the assets of your estate. For most people, a will is sufficient for their estate planning needs.

In some cases, a trust may be necessary as part of your estate planning. A trust is a more detailed document that dictates how your assets will be distributed and can provide for your loved ones with special needs.

Benefits of a Trust:

  • Provides for your loved ones with special needs.
  • Simplifies the process of closing your estate by allowing your heirs to file a small claims estate.
  • Avoids having to deal with the commissioner of accounts and pay probate taxes on the assets in your estate.

The choice between a will and a trust for your estate planning needs is a personal one and should be based on your individual circumstances. Factors to consider include the size and complexity of your estate, the needs of your loved ones, and the cost of each option. It’s important to discuss your options with an attorney to determine the best course of action for you.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Trusts Used In Estate Planning In Virginia?

A revocable trust is a common type of trust used in estate planning in Virginia. In a revocable trust, the trustee, who is typically the person who created the trust, has the ability to add or remove assets from the trust until the time of their passing. Once the trust becomes irrevocable at the time of the trustee’s passing, the assets in the trust become permanent and must be distributed according to the terms of the trust.

For example, if you have a house and a child with special needs, the house could be sold and the funds from the sale used to support the child until they no longer need it. The trust would dictate how any remaining assets would be distributed.

What Medical Related Documents Should Be Included In An Estate Plan?

A living will, also known as an advanced medical directive in Virginia, is a crucial document to include in your estate plan. This document appoints someone to make decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. For example, if you are in a severe car accident that causes brain damage, an advanced medical directive allows you to specify your wishes for medical treatment and ensures that they will be recognized by medical professionals.

What Mistakes Do People Commonly Make When Trying To Set Up Their Estate Planning On Their Own Or With An Online Or DIY Estate Planning Tool?

One of the biggest mistakes people make is not understanding the formalities required to create legally valid estate planning documents. For example, a will must be witnessed by at least two people who must be in the same room with the person signing the will until everyone has signed in all the necessary places.

There is also specific language, known as self-proving language, that must be included in a will. Online or DIY estate planning tools may not include this language, which can cause problems when it comes time to probate the will.

To ensure that your estate plan is legally valid, it’s best to work with an attorney who has experience in estate planning. They can guide you through the process and ensure that all formalities are properly followed and all necessary language is included in your estate planning documents.

For more information on Need For Proper Estate Planning In Virginia, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (703) 775-1678 today.


Attorney Mark Madigan is a careful and compassionate North Virginia attorney in Springfield who has decades of experience helping individuals and families craft wills, trusts, and estate plans. Always on the lookout for ways to demystify these essential legal tools, his work helps ordinary Virginians protect their legacies, assets, and families.

Connect with his law firm, Madigan and Scott Inc. to stay up to date on Virginia estate planning laws, risks, and practices so that you do not have to face this difficult time, nor these challenging decisions, alone and uninformed.

Call Us Now To Get Your Case Reviewed (703) 775-1678

Accessibility Accessibility
Ă— Accessibility Menu CTRL+U