Virginia Wills Lawyer

Some people in Virginia believe that if they have established a living trust to avoid probate, they do not need a will. However, the fact is that it is always wise to have a clear, up-to-date will in place to help ensure that your directives for the future are understood and followed.

A Virginia wills lawyer could help with creation of a new will, revision of an existing will, or assistance with contesting or defending the terms of a will. Although anyone may create a will without legal instruction, guidance from a trusts and estates lawyer can help ensure that the terms of a will are enforceable and unequivocal.

Basic Information About Wills

In legal terms, a will is quite simple. It is a written document in which the creator, often referred to in Virginia as the testator, specifies what should happen with their property after they die. Any person over the age of 18 who is mentally competent may create a will. If any evidence is introduced to show that a will was created under duress or undue influence or fraud, then a court may declare a will to be invalid.

When someone dies without a valid will, their property is distributed according to the Virginia laws of intestate succession. Wills do not have any effect until the death of the testator, so they may be changed at any time so long as the testator remains legally competent. Because codicils amending wills may be difficult to interpret, a Virginia wills lawyer will usually create a new will with changes incorporated rather than attaching a change to the end of an existing will.

Why it is Important to Have a Will

A will can be used to reinforce plans involving living trusts and other mechanisms for transferring property. Moreover, a will can direct the disposition of property that inadvertently is omitted from a trust. Wills can also be used as the vehicle for creating trusts to meet the needs of loved ones in the future.

A Virginia wills lawyer could draft a will that:

  • Names the person designated to manage the estate
  • Nominates a guardian for minor children
  • Directs division of property
  • Reduces expenses associated with administering the estate
  • Establish a trust for support of dependents
  • Name the person who will manage trusts
  • Provides support to charitable organizations or favorite causes

When individuals who do not create a will, the government decides how their property will be distributed, which may be directly contrary to their wishes. Although an individual may create a will without assistance from an attorney, if the terms do not comply with current laws, some provisions may not be enforced as written.

Contesting a Will

A Virginia wills lawyer can assist if someone seeks to contest the terms of a will. Virginia law provides two methods for contesting a will. An individual may appeal the clerk of the court’s order probating the will or file a lawsuit to impeach a will.

Only an “interested person” may contest a will in Virginia, which usually means someone designated to receive assets under the will or who has a statutory right to part of an estate under state law. Moreover, a challenge to the terms of a will must be based on permissible legal grounds, or it will be thrown out by the court.

How a Virginia Wills Attorney Can Help

The process of creating, revising, contesting, or administering the terms of a will can be fraught with emotion. A Virginia wills lawyer understands many of the complicating factors and can help make these procedures as smooth and thorough as possible to avoid many common pitfalls.

Virginia law does not require an individual to work with a professional legal advocate when devising a will, but guidance from an experienced estate planning lawyer can help you create a will designed to meet your individual goals. Moreover, working with an attorney can help prevent problems when it comes time to enforce the terms. To learn how a wills lawyer could assist in your situation, call now for a consultation.