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Essentials of a Valid Will

Valid, Updated Will

Virginia has formal requirements for the  mentally competency of the will maker,  the content of the will transfer wealth and appointing the executor and guardians for children, its signing, witnessing and notarization. Failure to meet the formalities may invalidate the will; old wills seldom pass the wealth consistent with intent of the will maker at time of death. An invalid or old will may lead to unexpected results for survivors.


In Virginia, the signing of a will must generally be witnessed by two competent persons, who also must sign the will in front of the will maker.

Without a notary following the rule changes,       a court proceeding may be required to take testimony from the witnesses.

Invalid or No Will

Virginia law directs who will receive your property, regardless of your wishes. This gets contentious in second marriages with two sets of children from prior marriages. The children may take two-thirds of the estate, and the surviving spouse ends up with  only one-third.

Joint Ownership

Contrary to popular belief, joint ownership of assets between a couple result in unnecessary estate taxes at the death of the survivor. Joint ownership between parent and child brings family fights, possible gift taxes, and the parent's residence can be lost to the child's creditors.

Wills verses Trusts

An assessment of estate planning goals is required. Planning for the aging process, including longer term care, plus legacy transfers is effectively accomplished with a fully funded living trust.  Alternatively, a will may meet all your needs, and ensure your avoid state law controlling who receives your wealth.