The foundation of any solid estate plan is a will. Formally known as a last will and testament, a will allows you to indicate how you would like your estate to be handled after you are gone. Your estate includes any assets, properties, and debts you have incurred over the span of your lifetime. This can include things like a family home, rental properties, cars, businesses, retirement accounts, and investments.
Creating a will is one of the most important things you can do. Not only does it allow you to have control over how your estate will be divided when you die, it also allows you to protect your family and loved ones. Without a will, your estate will pass through the probate process, which can be incredibly time-consuming and costly. It may even result in certain individuals being unable to receive an inheritance you wish them to have. If you have not named an executor of your estate, your properties will be distributed at the discretion of a judge. The judge will not take into account your wishes or the wishes of your descendants but will, instead, distribute your estate according to Virginia state laws.
If you are interested in creating a will, our firm can help. Contact DiPietro Law Group, PLLC to speak with one of our wills attorneys in Fairfax today.
What Can You Do with a Will in Virginia?
First and foremost, it is important that you understand what a will can and cannot do. Remember, a will is just one aspect of an estate plan. There are many other things to take into account when carrying out estate planning, such as powers of attorney, heath care directives, and business succession.
In Virginia, a will can be used to:
- Designate which assets/properties you want to leave to certain individuals and/or organizations
- Name a person to serve as a personal guardian for any minor children you may have
- Choose someone to manage any assets/properties you leave to your minor children
- Name someone who will make sure the terms of your will are carried out (the executor)
Once you have created a will, it is not set in stone. Your will remains in effect for the duration of your life, and you are able to adjust or modify it at any time. If, for example, you appoint a guardian for a minor child when you first create your will, but this person later becomes unable to potentially care for your child, you may change your will to establish a new guardian. You may also modify who will receive your property, which properties they will receive, and who will serve as executor at any time.
In Virginia, the presence of a will does not eliminate the probate process. Rather, it allows your family members, loved ones, and heirs to go through the process much quicker than if no will exists.
How to Make a Will
While it is not required that you have an attorney to make a will in Virginia, estate planning law can be quite complex. It is generally a good idea to consult with a legal professional who understands the various laws at play. At DiPietro Law Group, PLLC, we can help you ensure that your will is sound, valid, and suited to your particular wishes. This is especially true if you believe your will might be contested.
In order to ensure validity, you must:
- Sign your will in front of two witnesses
- Have your witnesses sign your will
You may also create a will that is “self-proving.” This type of will typically allows for a much faster probate process, as the court will not need to contact the witnesses. In order to create a self-proving will, you will need to have your will notarized. In front of a notary, you and your witnesses will sign an affidavit that establishes each of your identities and states that each of you knew you were signing the will. If you do not wish to create a self-proving will, you do not need to have your will notarized to make it valid.
Contact Our Firm Today
At DiPietro Law Group, PLLC, we can help you with every aspect of your will. Whether you are just beginning the process of drafting a will or you need to make adjustments to a will you already have, our Fairfax will lawyers can help. We have handled numerous complex cases, including those involving high-asset estates, individuals with children from previous marriages, small business owners and landlords, and others. With more than 42 years of combined legal experience, our team has the in-depth knowledge needed to help you create a solid plan for your estate.
Find out how you can make sure your estate and your loved ones are protected; call DiPietro Law Group, PLLC or contact us online to request your initial consultation.