Virginia residents who want to leave clear instructions for how to handle their estates should create a will. However, there are limitations as to what a will can do. For instance, it generally doesn’t have any say over what happens to property left in a living trust. It also doesn’t have any say over what happens to property that is titled in joint tenancy.

If an asset has a beneficiary designation attached to it, the beneficiary will get the asset upon the current owner’s death. Typically, assets such as the cash value of a life insurance policy or money in a retirement account goes directly to a beneficiary. Individuals should also understand that wills go through probate and that they are not always the best way to leave funeral instructions. This is because most wills aren’t reviewed until after the funeral has already taken place.

It is generally not possible to put conditions on a gift made through a will. This is almost always true if the gift is contingent on something illegal like growing marijuana or facilitating underage drinking. The reason why it may not be worth putting conditions on a gift is that it may not be enforced or enforced for as long as the will’s creator intends it to be.

Virginia residents who are looking for help crafting a will may benefit from working with an attorney. Legal counsel could provide insight into what can go into a will and what may be best placed in a trust or other document. If a person already has a will, the attorney may review it. Ideally, a person will schedule regular estate plan review sessions after creating a will or other document.