It is a commonly held belief that when a person passes on that their spouse will inherit their wealth and property. If that person dies without a spouse and has children, then those individuals will be given their deceased parent’s money and assets. Where and how a Virginia resident’s end of life estate goes once they have passed on can be managed through the creation of an estate plan. However, those who do not create formal plans for the disposition of their assets will have the laws of intestacy apply.
Intestacy laws in Virginia generally follow the path of the family tree. That is to say, when a person dies without a will then their spouse will be the first to inherit. Their children would follow the spouse if the spouse is not alive when the decedent passes on, and the grandchildren of the decedent would follow as the next potential beneficiaries.
If a person passes on without a spouse, children, or other descendants, then their estate would move back up the family tree to their parents. In the event that their parents predeceased them, the individual’s siblings would be next to inherit. Descendants of siblings would come next, and this pattern would continue until such a relative was located who was eligible to inherit the estate of the decedent. If a person dies with no family, then their estate may pass to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
As readers can see, the failure to execute a will or other estate planning documents may result in the loss of control over where their assets land after their deaths. Attorneys who work in the estate planning field may be consulted by those who wish to avoid this and other estate planning problems.