Virginia Inheritance Laws

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Unveiling Virginia Inheritance Law

Estate planning is a pivotal yet often overlooked. It is the process that involves deciding who will inherit your personal property and assets when you become incapacitated or die and ensuring your wishes are followed. But, the path to ensuring your estate is distributed according to your wishes or the state’s decree can be both daunting and crucially important.

Moreover, Virginia’s inheritance laws, including property division rules under intestate succession, significantly impact an individual’s legacy and the eventual distribution of assets.

Let’s delve into the statutes that will oversee the future of your estate so you can make informed decisions about your legacy. If you need more help or clarification, Kevin C. Martin, Attorney at Law, PLLC, is dedicated to helping clients understand the law and the procedures that must be followed. With decades of combined legal experience, we understand Virginia’s unique laws on estate planning and can keep you out of court and away from conflict. 

Testate Laws

At its core, estate succession under Virginian law refers to the transfer of a decedent’s property to heirs and beneficiaries. If you die with a valid will, your estate will be distributed accordingly under the directives you’ve set forth.

A will is a legally binding document that allows a person to determine the division of their estate among beneficiaries. By drafting a will, you retain control over your estate, designating your preferred heirs and specifying what each will receive. 

What If the Will Is Contested?

Virginia’s laws grant the executor named in the will the right to act without court supervision unless that will is contested. Under Virginia law, wills can only be contested by individuals who meet an “interested person” criteria.

Individuals who meet these criteria can challenge the will by identifying the grounds and submitting the contest to the court. They will then await a hearing where the court will decide on the contest. If successful, a contest can render the will void, leaving the estate to be distributed under intestate succession laws.

Intestate Laws: What Happens When You Die Without a Will

When an individual passes away without a will, Virginia intestate succession laws come into play. These statutes dictate how assets are distributed among surviving family members. The hierarchy of inheritance is quite specific and generally begins with the surviving spouse and children. From there, the list of beneficiaries descends to other family members.

Virginia law also specifies the shares of the estate that each potential heir may receive, with a large portion often going to the surviving spouse. For example, if an individual dies, leaving only a surviving spouse behind, the spouse inherits the entire estate. That is also the case if all of the decedent’s children are also the children of the surviving spouse.

However, if an individual had one or more children with an ex-partner, just one-third of the estate would go to the surviving spouse. Two-thirds will be divided evenly between surviving children. It’s important to know that children or a child born after the decedent’s death will receive a share of the estate. Also, legally adopted children have the same inheritance rights as biological children.

If there are no children or spouses, the decedent’s parents or a surviving parent will inherit the entire estate. Family members such as siblings, grandchildren, and other surviving relatives may also have claims to the estate in some instances.

Tax Implications on Virginia Inheritances

Typically, estate and inheritance taxes are levied on the transfer of property at death. An inheritance tax is owed by the individual who inherited property from the estate of a deceased person. On the other hand, an estate tax is levied against the entire estate and paid by the estate before any other assets are distributed to the heirs.

However, you may be subject to federal estate tax, depending on the size of the estate. Estates of a person dying in 2024 valued at less than or equal to $13.61 million are exempt from federal estate tax.

Hiring an estate tax protection attorney is an essential step toward protecting your assets and ensuring your family’s future is safe from excessive taxation. Kevin C. Martin, Attorney at Law, PLLC, can assist you in reducing or avoiding the federal estate tax burden.

Have More Questions About Virginia Inheritance Laws? Reach Out to Us Today!

Knowing Virginia’s inheritance laws is a critical step in ensuring that your legacy is honored according to your vision and the state’s statutes. However, for more in-depth information tailored to your specific circumstances, seeking professional advice and ensuring your estate plan fully aligns with your intentions and the intricacies of Virginia’s inheritance laws can be beneficial.

A knowledgeable estate tax planning attorney at Kevin C. Martin, Attorney at Law, PLLC, can help you preserve what you worked hard for and protect your family’s future. Contact us today because proactivity in planning today can be a cherished gift tomorrow.