Estate Planning FAQs

Do I need a Will?

Most people need a Will to ensure that their estate is disposed of according to their wishes and to grant their executor specific powers which facilitate the administration of the estate. If a person dies without a Will, then the Code of Virginia dictates who will receive the person‘s estate, and the decedent may very well wish to have an alternative disposition than that which is dictated by statute. By using a Will, you can also address the issue of delaying the vesting of property to heirs beyond the age of 18 and until they reach a certain degree of maturity.

What happens if I die without a Will (intestate)?

The Code of Virginia dictates the disposition of your property. This statutory disposition may be contrary to how you wish your estate to be distributed. In addition, someone would have to qualify as the administrator of your estate, and you do not have any control over who this person may be. With a Will, you designate who will handle your estate.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a grant of authority to a person during your life time to act in your place if you are unavailable or incapacitated. If you do not have a Power of Attorney and become incapacitated during your lifetime, someone would have to petition the Court to become your guardian and conservator. You would have no say in ultimately who the Court may approve as your guardian and conservator.

Is a copy of my Will sufficient for probate?

The general answer is no.

What is a Living Will or an Advanced Medical Directive?

An Advanced Medical Directive is your written direction that if you have a terminal illness where the application of life prolonging procedures would only artificially prolong your dying process, then you direct such procedures be withheld, that you be allowed to die naturally, and that only the administration of medication as necessary to relieve pain or provide comfort to you be given to you. In addition, an Advance Medical Directive is the appointment of a healthcare agent to make medical decisions for you during your incapacity.