What is a Last Will and Testament


A Virginia Last Will and Testament, when prepared and executed properly by a person who is an adult of sound mind with legal responsibility for his- or herself, is a formal document that specifies how their assets or estate will be managed and distributed after their death. The person who dies is formally referred to as the decedent. If the decedent has minor children, the Last Will and Testament may also be used to designate who they want to care for their children and who they wish to handle their childrenís inheritance/finances until each child comes of age (usually 18, but you can designate a different age) to handle their finances on their own.

In a Last Will and Testament, the decedent usually also names a personal representativeóor co-personal representatives (two or more persons acting together in this capacity)óto manage the matters of the estate. The personal representative is the person who gathers all of the information about the decedentís debts and assets, pays outstanding debts using the assets on behalf of the estate, and ensures that the decedentís property is distributed as specified in the Will, so this is a job with a lot of responsibility, and the personal representative selected is usually someone the decedent really trusts to follow through on the details and with his or her wishes.

If a person dies without having a valid Last Will and Testament (which usuallyóin most statesómeans it must be properly witnessed, as wellónot just signed), someone will usually be appointed by the court to be the personal representative and will pay the decedentís debts, liquidizing assets as necessary to do so. Then the remaining assets will be distributed among the decedentís heirs according to the laws of the state the decedent lived in.

In some states, if one spouse dies leaving behind a husband or wife, that living spouse will inherit all of the decedentís property in the absence of a Last Will and Testament stating to the contrary. In other cases, the decedent may have specified a particular beneficiary to inherit a life insurance policy, retirement account, or other asset, and that beneficiary designation will dictate who receives those assets in the absence of a Virginia Last Will and Testament.

The important thing to note is that anyone who wishes to designate how their assets will be distributed after their death should prepare and properly execute a Last Will and Testament to ensure their wishes are known and honored. If they donít, they may be leaving it up to chance, the laws of the state in which they reside at the time of their death, or a court of law as to how their final affairs will be settled.  Virginia free information on last will and testament forms.

Legal Requirements for Last Wills in Virginia

Last Will and Testament is an extremely important document, no matter how old you are. This official paper will consist of a set of instructions for the executor upon how you wish your assets to be distributed among your inheritors.

The USA does not have a federal law regulating this issue, and the procedures of creating and validating the Last Will differ from state to state. Keep on reading to know more about how this paper works in Virginia.

According to the laws of Virginia, Last Will is not a document that all citizens must obligatorily execute.

In case the decedent did not leave a written Last Will, their property will be distributed the following way:

  • If there is only the surviving spouse, they will inherit the entire property;

  • If there are the spouse and the children from previous relationships, the spouse will get ? and the children ? of the assets;

  • If no spouse or children are alive, the assets go to parents, siblings, and other relatives.

To make a Last Will in Virginia, you have to:

  • Be 18 years of age or older;

  • Undergo medical evaluation and be of sound mind;

  • Provide the paper in writing;

  • Sign the paper yourself or instruct another person to sign it on your behalf;

  • Get the document witnessed by two adults who are not beneficiaries.

Creating this paper does not only grant you the right to choose how your property will be divided after death. You may also choose the executor that will perform the distribution, designate a legal guardian for minor children, or create a beneficial trust.

No Last Will becomes effective until it is proven in probate court.

You also have to take into consideration that the property owned in joint tenancy with the rights of survivorship will not be inherited by the relatives you include in the paper.

It is possible to change the Last Will you already made any time. To do so, execute a codicil. In case you wish to completely revoke the paper, destroy it or complete and submit another Last Will.

Last Will and Testament and Living Will are often viewed as one. However, make sure you understand the difference: the Living Will is a document that you execute to instruct medical personnel to provide particular health care treatment for you when you are no longer capable of speaking for yourself. This document has nothing to do with the distributions of your assets but will contain information concerning organ donation, life-sustaining manipulations, relieving pain, organizing the funeral, and other similar issues.

If you are unsure about how exactly you should complete, sign, and submit the form, consult a legal specialist in your residential area to learn more about the laws and regulations.



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