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Office LocationKamerow Law Firm, PLLC
5001 Seminary Road, Suite 110
Alexandria, VA 22311
If a loved one has passed and a will can’t be found, legal action might be necessary to ensure proper distribution of the estate, depending on the existence and claims of surviving heirs.
Under circumstances in which a will has never been executed, the laws of intestacy in the state of Virginia will apply. These statutes contain a strict and straight forward flow chart to be followed in determining the distribution of both real property and personal property. Essentially, current spouses (if they exist) take a portion, and then children will take the remainder in full, at equal shares. If no such heirs exist, the next class of heirs will take, in the same fashion and in the following order: descendants of children, parents, siblings, and finally spouses will take all remaining property if none of the above exist.
It is important to understand that the spirit of probate laws is such that the state abhors escheat. In other words, the laws of intestacy make every attempt to place the property of a decedent into the hands of relatives, rather than to allow that property to be taken by the Commonwealth.
The best way to solve probate issues is to address them before they arise. Speak with loved ones about the existence and location of a will. Insist that copies are placed so that they will be readily available when it comes time for them to be executed. Fire-resistant safes, bank safety deposit boxes, file cabinets of trusted family attorneys, and file cabinets of trusted relatives are all sensible places for copies of wills to be kept. Addressing the creation of a will and its safe keeping during the life of a testator can prevent inequitable distribution of estates after death.
Finding a Will
Upon death, any properly executed will become public information. To find the will of a deceased relative, go to the probate court that holds jurisdiction where the testator last lived and visit the clerk’s office. If this gains no results, search in jurisdictions where the decedent lived prior to death. Upon identifying the decedent, you will be given access to all documents pertaining to the will and probate proceedings. If no will can be located, negotiations with other potential heirs may yield agreements leading do distribution of property. Of course, the dollar value of the estate along with the relationship of the other potential heirs can affect their willingness to agree to terms.
If a loved one has passed, and the absence of a will or one you believe to be invalid threatens to create a questionable distribution of property, learn your rights. Contact or call the Kamerow Law Firm PLLC at 703-370-8088 for a free initial consultation and to let us assist you throughout each step of your case.