Shockingly, some 55 percent of American adults have neither a will nor any other type of estate plan in place. This number has remained fairly steady for the past fifteen years and does not take into account the number of adults who have put medical directives in place—a number which has actually increased.
Although medical directives, which explain what type of medical care you want to receive should you become incapacitated, are a good thing to have, they do not help your family with your financial affairs should you die suddenly. Among minorities, the number of American adults who do not have a will is even higher. Nearly three-quarters of Hispanic adults and about 68 percent of black adults do not have a will. In general, those adults who do have wills are over the age of 60.
There are so many good reasons to have a will, and virtually none which support not having your estate in good order. Without a will, intestate succession laws decide what happens to your assets upon your death. If you do not have a will in the state of Virginia when you die, here is what may happen to your assets:
It is important to recognize that some assets don’t go through a will so long as they have a designated beneficiary, and therefore would not be affected by intestate succession laws. These assets can include:
A “survivor” under Virginia law is someone who outlives you by at least 120 hours. This means if you and your mother are involved in a car accident (and you have no spouse or children), your mother must outlive you by at least 120 hours in order to inherit your estate. If you have half-siblings, they inherit only half as much as if they were “full” siblings. In other words, assume you have no children, no spouse and your parents are deceased. You have two brothers born to your parents, therefore they are “full” siblings.” You have one half-sister, who is your father’s daughter, but not your mother’s. Your half-sister is only entitled to half as much as your brothers. Any relatives conceived before you die, but born after your death will inherit as if they had been born while you were alive. Finally, there is no difference as to inheritance for your relatives who are not legal citizens of the United States and those who are.
If you do not have a will or other estate plan in place, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced Virginia estate attorney who can help you get your financial affairs in order, per your wishes, rather than leaving it to chance, and the state of Virginia. Contact us today to discuss your case!