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What Do Wills Not Do?

While there are many advantages to having a will, there are some things a will simply can’t do. As an example, a will is the perfect document for parents with minor children to designate a guardian for your children, minimizing court intervention. A will is also the right estate document to designate an executor of your estate. You can also, through a will, choose to provide for specific persons who would not otherwise be provided for under Virginia state intestacy laws, such as friends, godchildren or stepchildren.

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What Happens if a Person Dies Without a Will in the State of Virginia?

People avoid having a will prepared for many reasons. Perhaps the most common reason people put off having a will prepared is simply because they don’t think they need it. People who avoid making a will for this reason probably believe they don’t have all that many assets, so the state of Virginia can reasonably be expected to divvy up those assets as they see fit. Other reasons people tend to put off having a will prepared is because they think it is complicated or too expensive or they don’t want to face their own mortality.

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There are Many Types of Wills—Which One is Best for You?

Most adults are at least somewhat aware they should have, at a minimum, a basic will. Yet 51 percent of those between ages 55-64 don’t have a will and 62 percent of those between the ages of 45-54 don’t have a will.  When you die without a will, the state gets to decide who will inherit your assets.

Generally speaking, if you have a spouse and/or children, then that’s where your assets will go. If you have minor children and die without a will, the state will choose their guardians. If you are not married and have no children, then the state will determine which relatives will inherit your assets.

If you don’t want to leave the determination of who will receive your assets to the state, then it is probably time to draft a will. Many people are inhibited by the various types of wills available. When they can’t decide which type is right for them, they simply end up doing nothing at all. An experienced estate-planning attorney can help you decide which type of will is best for your individual circumstances, particularly because not all types of wills are legal in all states. Below you will find a description of each type of will.

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Living Will FAQs

What is a Living Will?

A living will is a document which will provide specific medical instructions should you become incapacitated. Living wills include a healthcare power of attorney which allows you to appoint a healthcare agent who will make any decisions related to your health care should you be unable to make those decisions on your own. You can choose which life-sustaining treatments you might want should you be in a coma or have a terminal illness in your living will.

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Can I Write My Own Will?

Even if you are a firm believer in do-it-yourself projects, you probably realize your limitations on some things, and hire a professional to do the job. While doing some things on your own can certainly save you money, when there is a chance that a mistake on the project could result in significant cost, it is usually better to allow a person who is trained, skilled and experienced to do the job.

Writing a will is one of the things that is almost always better left to a trained legal professional. You can, of course, find all sorts of DIY wills on the Internet, but guess what? You can also find out how to remove your own appendix on the Internet, yet the vast majority of people know better than to attempt that. There are any number of mistakes—some of them quite serious—which can be made on a DIY will.

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New Year, New Will?

Pricewaterhouse Coopers recently surveyed 5,500 people between the ages of 23 and 35. The goal of the survey was to find out just how much this group really knew about personal finance, their savings, their debts and to find out how satisfied, overall, they were with their financial life. As it turned out, this group—known as the Millennial generation—are plagued by lots of debt, small savings accounts and little knowledge of personal finance. This could, in turn, have a significant effect on future generations. Some of the most troubling issues which came out of the study included the following:

  • At least half of those surveyed said they would be unable to come up with $2,000 in the event of an emergency.
  • More than half of those surveyed don’t believe they will ever be able to repay their student loans, regardless of their income bracket.
  • A bit more than forty percent of those surveyed have taken advantage of some type of “alternative financial services product,” including high interest payday and auto title loans, advances on tax refunds, pawning items at a local pawnshop, and obtaining furniture and electronics at rent-to-own stores.
  • Only about a third of those surveyed have a retirement account, and nearly one-sixth of those who did have a retirement account had taken out a “hardship” withdrawal within the past year.
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