Many people assume that there’s no need to execute a will if they don’t own real estate or have minimal assets. The reasoning is that the cost of having a lawyer assist with preparing, drafting, and executing a will isn’t worth the investment. However, this is a mistake: Dying without a will, termed “intestate” in Virginia, can actually cost more money in the end. Intestacy can cause significant delays in distributing your assets and wrapping up your affairs. Developing an estate plan with your attorney helps you avoid these issues.
Even Nominal Assets Must Be Distributed.
No matter what the value of your assets may be, they must be distributed to your descendants when you don’t have a will. Your descendants include your spouse, children, parents, siblings, and relatives further down the bloodline. So, it’s possible that someone you don’t intend to receive your assets may get them by state law. It’s not enough for you to tell someone you want to leave them an inheritance; there must be proof by a properly executed will.
Appointment of an Administrator Costs Money.
If you don’t have a will, your loved ones will need to file a petition in court and receive the proper documents to handle your assets after death. There are filing fees involved with appointing an administrator to manage your affairs, including distributing assets, paying final bills, and making arrangements to sell other property. Plus, someone charged with administrator duties might need the assistance of a lawyer, because there’s no will to guide them.
An Administrator Must Post Bond.
Under Virginia law, an administrator must purchase a bond from a court approved company – a sort of insurance policy against any wrongdoing. The bond amount required by statute is the full value of your personal property, plus certain amounts related to income for real property. For instance, if you receive rent from a property, your administrator must post a bond that includes this value. With a will, you can avoid some aspects of probate entirely. You save money and leave less of a burden for your descendants.
An Attorney Can Help
Preparing a will and other components of an estate plan offers time and cost benefits, even if you don’t have significant assets. The attorneys at Shannon & Associates, P.C. have experience in creating plans for estates of all sizes, and can explain your best options. Please contact or call us at (757) 228-5529 for more information on Virginia estate planning.