If you die without an estate plan in place, the government steps in to make important decisions on your behalf. Often, these decisions are at odds with what you would have chosen.
Understanding Intestate Succession Laws
When someone dies without a will in Virginia, intestate succession laws determine who receives their property and assets. These laws generally allow your closest living relatives to inherit from your estate:
- If you have children and no spouse, your children inherit everything.
- If you have a spouse but no children, your spouse inherits everything.
- If you have children you share with your spouse, your spouse inherits everything.
- If you have a spouse and children you share with someone else, your spouse gets one-third of your property, and the children get the remaining share.
- If you have living parents but no spouse or children, your parents inherit everything.
- If you have siblings but no spouse, children, or living parents, your siblings inherit everything.
Intestate laws generally only apply to your legal descendants. Foster children and stepchildren who were never legally adopted have no automatic right of inheritance. Children born outside of marriage can only inherit if their paternity has been established.
A Special Note for Parents of Young Children
While people often think of a Last Will and Testament as a tool for distributing assets, it also serves a function that is just as—if not more—important for those who have young children living at home. It allows you to name a guardian who can step in to care for your children after your death.
If you don’t have an estate plan in place, the state will appoint a guardian. This person won’t necessarily be someone who shares your values and parenting beliefs, so it’s vital that you make the appropriate arrangements on your own.
Alperin Law Can Help You Create an Estate Plan That Fits Your Needs
At Alperin Law, our goal is to provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved ones will be properly provided for after you’re gone. Contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office directly to learn how our estate planning attorneys can be of service. We serve all communities in Eastern Virginia, including Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Isle of Wight County, Hampton, the Eastern Shore, and Northeastern North Carolina, including Currituck, Elizabeth City, and the Outer Banks.