What You Should Know About Creating a Will
Establishing a will is not a task most people relish. It’s uncomfortable to think about your death and what comes afterward, but it is necessary to ensure a smooth transfer of your estate and assets to your heirs.
Below are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare your will:
- Intestate succession: If you die without a will, your property is subject to Virginia’s laws of intestate succession. This means all of your property will be distributed and all estate-related affairs settled according to state law. Therefore, if you have specific wishes regarding what happens to your estate, you must create a will.
- Joint wills versus separate wills: Estate planners almost always advise against joint wills for married couples. You and your spouse will almost certainly not pass away at the same time, and you likely have some property that you don’t share. So it’s a better idea to make separate wills, even if they end up being very similar.
- Wills need witnesses: For your will to be official in Virginia, its signing must be witnessed by two competent people who sign it in your presence. Typically, you would choose someone who is not a beneficiary. A lawyer who helps you draft your will should not serve as a witness. And although the Commonwealth does not require wills to be notarized, most lawyers recommend doing so.
- Choose an executor: You will need to select a trusted friend or relative to serve as your estate executor. This person’s responsibility is to distribute property to beneficiaries, settle estate debts, pay your bills and taxes and resolve any other issues that arise in your estate after your passing.
- Keep your will updated: Changing life circumstances could necessitate adjustments to your will. You should review the document at least once a year. Even if you don’t believe a change will be necessary, it’s a good idea to refresh your memory as to what’s included in the document.
For further guidance on key considerations when drafting a will, contact a central Virginia estate planning attorney with Miller Law Group, PC.