A guide to Virginia probate laws.
Anyone who is at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor, if they are of sound mind, may write a will in Virginia.
Every will must be signed by at least two competent witnesses in the presence of the testator.
Yes, but we recommend that you use two disinterested witnesses to avoid headaches for your heirs when you die.
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An out-of-state executor must post a surety bond unless there is a co-executor who lives in Virginia.
Corporate executors must be authorized in Virginia.
Yes, Virginia allows for a holographic will, but it must be written and signed in the testator’s handwriting, and proved by two disinterested witnesses after the testator’s death.
If only a portion of the will is handwritten, it must follow witnessing requirements to be considered valid.
No, Virginia is not a community property state.
In a community property state, each spouse has an equal share of property acquired during the marriage. Property acquired before the marriage is considered separate property.
In Virginia, when there is no will, the court will determine who receives the intestate estate based on the laws of intestate succession.
Virginia’s laws of intestate succession state that if you left a surviving spouse only, then they inherit your property. However, if the decedent is survived by both a surviving spouse and children/descendants of someone else, the surviving spouse only receives one-third of the intestate estate.
Otherwise, when there is no surviving spouse, then the intestate estate will pass along in the following order:
Children, or their descendants
Siblings of the decedent, or their descendants (nieces and nephews)
Aunts and uncles of the decedent, or their descendants (cousins)
Siblings of the decedent’s grandparents, or their descendants
For someone to receive the estate, there must not be anyone left in the category above them. If an inheritor is dead, then their share typically passes to their children by a per capita or per stirpes designation, depending on whether the heir’s descendants are themselves still alive.
While the testator is alive, the will may be filed with the circuit court, for “lodging, indexing, and preserving,” for a $5 filing fee.
After the testator dies, the will must be filed at the circuit court in the county where the decedent lived.
In Virginia, certain assets can be distributed with a small estate affidavit if the total gross value of personal property is less than $50,000, and it has been more than 60 days since the decedent died, and no one has been appointed personal representative (or no application is pending).
Additionally, an asset can be distributed without an affidavit if the asset is worth less than $25,000, more than 60 days have passed since the decedent died, and no one has been appointed personal representative (or no application is pending).
Such asset include bank accounts, brokerage accounts, tangible personal property, but not real estate or land (real property).
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