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Sometimes, a party named in a will dies before the testator. Unless the parcel of property intended for this heir is somehow reassigned, this property will be subject to intestacy, and could be subject to probate. In legal terms, a legatee is a person designated in a will to inherit money or other non-real property, and a devisee is a person designated to inherit real property.
If a testator designates an heir for a parcel of property who, at the time of execution, has already died, the gift left to this designee is void.
If a designated heir in a will dies after the creation of the will but before the death of the testator, the gift allocated to this heir will become lapsed.
A codicil is a document that amends a will. It can revoke all or portions of a will, or it can designate an heir for property acquired after the execution of a will. It can also assign property otherwise not assigned to a party in the will. In the case of unassigned property caused by the death or other unavailability of a named person, a codicil can reassign that property to another heir with certainty.
Of course, a will can be rewritten at any time and the previous version be nullified, but the use of a codicil avoids the process of executing another will and streamlines the process of reassigning a parcel of property.
In the absence of another rule, void, lapsed or otherwise unassigned parcels of an estate will fall to the residue, which is any portion of an estate not designated to an heir. Anti-lapse statutes address situations of lapsed and void gifts designated in a will, and allow one who invokes the statute to stand in the shoes of the intended, specified, yet deceased legatee or devisee and take the property just as the original legatee or devisee would have. While anti-lapse statutes vary among jurisdictions with regard to who can qualify to use the statute, Virginia’s rules provide that a deceased heir can be the grandparents of the testator and all issue of those grandparents can invoke the statute (parents, then children, grandchildren, etc.) depending on who among that group is surviving.
Demand your fair share of the estate; get legal representation to enforce your inheritance
An unfortunate by-product of the death of a maternal or paternal figure can be disputes among surviving relatives. This could result from the fact that siblings who have developed bad blood are suddenly thrust in a position in which they must not only have contact with one another – often for the first time in many years – but also sometimes be forced to coordinate arrangements related to the death of the parent. When money and prized possessions are at stake, the rancor increases in intensity. Selfishness can replace common sense in an attempt to gain as large a portion of the estate as possible. Do not allow improper acts on the part of others deny your rightful inheritance. Contact online or call the experienced will contest attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC for a free and confidential consultation by calling 703-370-8088.