Your will remains valid until you revoke it by destroying it, by signing a written document which revokes it, or by signing a new will. If you are married, your spouse may have rights regarding your estate regardless of what is stated in your will. If you sign a will and then later divorce, the law may consider your will partially revoked with respect to your ex-spouse. You will does not go into effect until you die; you can change the contents of your will at any time during your life, as long as you are mentally competent. Whenever you experience a major life change in your life – marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of children – you should revisit the current contents of your will, and update it as needed.
While many people believe joint ownership between family members is an acceptable substitute for a will, joint ownership of assets between a married couple can result in an unnecessary estate tax burden for the survivor, while joint ownership between a parent and child may cause unexpected and unnecessary gift taxes. Work with an estate planning attorney at Hook Law Center to properly draft your will.
Why work with a lawyer to draft my will?
Avoid unnecessary will contests and ensure your wishes are carried out.
Many people believe that a will is the most essential tool when it comes to estate planning. More than simply choosing an executor and designating where your items will go after your death, a will involves a thorough inventory of your assets and your liabilities, a tool for fleshing out your goals and noting wishes for your descendants and other loved ones, and a legal conduit with which to make your final wishes clear.
While anyone who is considered mentally competent and is eighteen years of age or older may make a will, if later there is proof of duress, fraud, or undue influence by another person, the will may be invalidated. That’s why due care should be taken when drafting a will, as it is often the only document stating your last wishes after you are gone.
In Virginia, if you die without a valid will in place and you are married, your estate will likely pass entirely to your surviving spouse. If you have surviving children or their descendants, and they are not also the descendants of your surviving spouse, your children and their descendants will typically be awarded two-thirds of your estate. The remaining one-third will go to your surviving spouse.