Wills & Estate Planning

Wills

I prepare wills for a low fee and the procedure is quick and simple. If you come to my office, I normally draft the will and arrange for you to sign it on the same visit. I only need to know what beneficiaries you wish to name and who you would like to serve as your Executor. If it is not convenient for you to make an office appointment, I can arrange to mail it or e-mail it to you.

If you do not have a will, your estate will pass by “intestate succession”, meaning that it will be distributed to your closest relatives according to the provisions of the Code of Virginia. Even if you want this result anyway, a will is greatly beneficial. It enables the estate to be closed more quickly and may relieve the Executor of the need to post certain bonds.

You are normally entitled to dispose of your assets as you choose with no restrictions. The exception occurs if you are married at the time of your death and attempt to exclude your spouse. Your will is still valid in such a case, but your surviving spouse will be entitled to claim a percentage of the estate first. The amount depends upon the length of the marriage according to a table in the Code of Virginia. This entitlement does not apply if the surviving spouse deserted the marriage.

While the procedure of preparing a will is not complex, it is absolutely necessary to comply with the formalities for it to be valid, including the presence of a notary public and two disinterested witnesses. The Clerk will examine the will to confirm full compliance with the formalities before admitting it to probate, and will require the original document. A will may be revoked by intentionally destroying it or by executing another will. If a will cannot be found at the time of the testator’s death, it is presumed that he destroyed it with the intent to revoke it.

A will may be challenged only by a person who has “standing” to do so, if he is excluded or receives less than he hoped to receive. In order to have standing, he must be adversely affected by the establishment of the will, meaning that he would have been a beneficiary if the challenged will were not probated. The most common challenges are lack of mental capacity or undue influence or coercion from another person at the time the will is executed. If the testator wishes to omit a child or other close family member, it is advisable to recite that he has chosen to make no provision for that individual, otherwise a challenger may argue that the testator was mentally incompetent and forgot that person.

If you are interested in obtaining a will or have any questions, you are welcome to contact me at any time free of charge by telephone, ​hilton@hiltonoliverattorneyva.com, or Facebook. I would love to be of service to you.

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