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Alexandria, VA Estate Planning Blog

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Happens If I Die Without A Will (or Valid Will)

What happens if I die without a will? / Or my will is successfully contested, lost, stolen, or destroyed?

Answer: Intestate succession, and likely disasterous consequences

First and foremost, you don’t want to merely rely on the state statutes. The risks are too high (improper and unwanted beneficiaries, taxes, plaintiffs, creditors, divorcing spouses, government seizure, and spendthrift beneficiaries). Without planning, your legacy and your beneficiaries will be exposed. You should have a will, even when you have a living trust.
 

Virginia has statutes in place to distribute your probate estate if you die without a will. Who receives your estate depends on numerous factors, including who survives you and their blood relationship with one another.


There are many disaterous pitfalls. Consider just one example.

Generally, a surviving spouse is entitled to 100% of your estate. However, there are numerous exceptions and issues that may change that. For example, if you have a child who was born to a person other than your spouse, then your spouse will generally only inherit 1/3 of your estate.
 

E.g.,
You die with a surviving spouse and also one child born by another person. Your spouse will inherit 1/3 of your probate estate and the other 2/3 will go to your child.
 

Caution!
Consider that 2/3 of your estate may be under the control of the child’s surviving parent if the child is under 18 and that  your surviving spouse would only receive 1/3 of your estate.
 


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