A will is a legal document that specifies how an individual wants to leave his or her property upon passing. If an individual passes away without a will, his or her property would be distributed according to Virginia’s intestate succession laws.
You may be thinking that creating a will is easy enough to do on your own. In fact, in Virginia, you do not need an attorney to write your will. So, why do you need an attorney to write your will?
To create a will, you must be at least 18 years old and mentally competent. You must also write down how you want to leave and distribute your property when you die, sign your will in front of two witnesses and have those witnesses sign your will. You do not need to notarize your will to make it legal and valid, though if you do, your will becomes “self-proving,” which can speed up the probate process. If the way you want to distribute your property after you die is simple and straightforward, then writing your own will is a decent option.
So yes, you are able to write your will without the aid of an attorney, but should you write your own will is another matter. While there are many online services that you can use to draft your own will, there are no guarantees that your final document will be free from error or mistakes. If your situation involves complex, unusual or significant assets, working with an attorney experienced in estate planning can help you avoid confusion, fights, mistakes or ambiguities in your will, and avoid having your will invalidated.
Having a skilled Fairfax estate lawyer by your side to help you write your will can help you avoid potential problems and additional costs for your family and heirs upon your passing. It also means that you will have the experience and know-how of an estate attorney to guide you through the complex work of drafting a thorough will that accounts for all your heirs, property and estate.
Additionally, working with an attorney to write your will ensures that it complies with Virginia law, provides tax advantages for your heirs and will be customized for your specific wants and needs. It also means a more robust document in the event someone tries to contest your will.
Working with an experienced estate lawyer also means that you will receive estate planning guidance based on your individual needs and desires that may lead to you not even needing a will, but rather the potential for creating living trusts.
Writing a will and estate planning in general is an important process. While some are hesitant to hire an attorney for estate planning or drafting a will, the costs are minimal compared to what your estate is worth or even what you may pay in court fees, if your will is contested.
It can be difficult to work through the complexities of these matters alone, which is why it is important to speak with an experienced estate attorney who can help you.
Rhonda Miller is an experienced Fairfax estate attorney who can help you create a will or estate plan that best suits your needs. Contact her today to see how she can help.