If you are like many people in Virginia (and throughout the rest of the U.S., for that matter), then you likely have yet to begin the process of planning out your estate. Your reasons may be due to you not wanting to upset any potential beneficiaries.
You may think it would be better to not prepare a will, and instead leave the task of determining the dispersal of your estate to those you leave behind. Many come to us here at The Law Office of Deborah N. Arthur believing this to be a viable option. Unfortunately, it is not.
What happens if you do not prepare a will?
If you do not leave behind a will, the state determines who receives your estate assets. Lawmakers refer to this process as intestate succession. Section 64.2-200 of the Code of Virginia details the state’s intestate succession guidelines. Here it states that your surviving spouse would receive your entire intestate estate. If, however, any of your descendants are not also those of your spouse, then your spouse share would drop to one-third of the estate, with the other two-thirds passing to your descendants (with each receiving an equal portion).
If you leave no spouse behind, your intestate estate would pass as follows:
- To your descendants
- To your parents
- To your siblings (and/or their descendants)
- To your paternal and maternal kindred (divided equally between both sides)
- To any descendants of a predeceased spouse not directly related to you
Allowances for third parties
If there are no relatives to inherit your intestate estate, it passes to the state. No allowances exist for anyone not related to you. Should you want any assets to go to such a party, you must state that in a will.
You can find more information on managing estate planning throughout our site.