Wills in Virginia

By Beverly Bird

Writing a will allows you to decide before your death who is going to get your assets, who is going to oversee the process of transferring them to those people and who will be the guardian of your minor children after your death, if you have any. To a great extent, you take the power of these decisions away from the court. Laws regarding wills vary from state to state. Title 64.1 of the Code of Virginia lists the state's requirements and provisions for wills and estate matters.

Requirements

Any mentally competent adult over the age of 18 can make a will in Virginia. You will need two witnesses when you sign it and there is no law that prohibits them from also being beneficiaries. However, if you write your whole will out by hand, witnesses are not required, provided that you also sign and date it.

Laws Regarding Spouses

If you omit your spouse from your will or attempt to leave him some minimal amount, he is entitled by law to an elective share of your estate. This means that rather than accept what you left him -- if anything -- in your will, he can elect to take a percentage of your augmented estate, not your probate estate, instead. An augmented estate usually includes the value of assets such as life insurance policies that would pass directly to a beneficiary and would not pass through probate. The elective share in Virginia is one-third if you have children, either together or from another relationship, and one-half if you do not have children. However, divorce or annulment automatically extinguishes any provisions or bequests you made to him in your will unless your will specifically states that you want your ex-spouse to inherit even if the marriage ends.

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Laws Regarding Children

If you leave assets to your children in your will and they are younger than 18 years of age, they will have to go through court guardianship proceedings. The court will appoint a guardian to oversee and control those assets on their behalf.

Intestacy Laws

Dying intestate means dying with out a will. If you pass away in Virginia and you don’t leave a will, the court will decide who gets your assets. Your spouse is first in line. If you don’t have children from a different relationship, she gets your entire estate. If you do have children from another relationship, they would share two-thirds of your estate and your spouse would receive one-third. If you are not married and have no children, then your parents would get all your assets, and if your parents are deceased, your siblings would divide your estate equally.

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Massachusetts Wills & Inheritance

References

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Mississippi Estate Inheritance Laws

If a Mississippi resident fails to make arrangements for the division of his property by making a will, his property will be divided according to state law. These laws are known as "laws of intestate succession," and they provide a distribution scheme that dictates a priority of heirs. In other words, certain relatives are entitled to all, or a portion of, a decedent's estate under certain circumstances -- if he didn't make a valid will. Dying without a valid will is known as dying "intestate."

Wills in New Jersey

New Jersey is more flexible than some states in its laws covering wills and estates. Anyone at least 18 years of age and of sound mind can make a will. While this is the norm among most jurisdictions, New Jersey has also passed progressive legislation to make it easy for your next of kin to locate your will after you pass away and to limit spouses’ shares to an estate under some circumstances. New Jersey recognizes domestic partnerships and the laws that apply to spouses also pertain to domestic partners.

Wills & Estates in Florida

Leaving a will ensures that your estate -- the assets you have accumulated during your lifetime -- will pass to the people you choose after your death. Each state has its own laws as to how this process -- called probate -- is done. In Florida, the circuit court oversees probate. Florida exempts some assets from the probate process and protects the rights of some next-of-kin against claims by the deceased’s creditors.

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