If you view the need to being the process of planning out the administration of your estate in Forest with a certain degree of trepidation, you certainly are not alone. Indeed, statistics show that more than half of American adults do not have a will. 

One of the reasons given by those who come to see us here at Craig P. Tiller, Esq. for not preparing a will is they do not want to upset any of their potential heirs. Thus, they think that if they do not prepare a will, the decisions regarding the distribution of their assets falls to those who may be among their potential beneficiaries. 

Understanding intestate succession

If you also believe this to be true, you should know that the dispersal of your estate (should you die without a will) is not left to your beneficiaries, but rather left to the dictates of state law. Virginia has statutes that regulate how an intestate estate (one not administered through a will) passes on to potential beneficiaries. In Section 64.2-200 of the Code of Virginia, it states that the order of succession of your intestate estate would be as follows: 

  • Your spouse   
  • Your direct descendants (also referred to as your “issue”) 
  • Your parents 
  • Your siblings (or their descendants) 
  • Your paternal and maternal kindred (in equal order) 
  • Your grandparents (or their descendants) 

If you leave behind no surviving kin, your intestate estate would pass to the state 

Detailing your desires in a will

You will notice that in the state’s rules for intestate succession, no allowances exist for anyone not directly related to you. This means that if you wish to leave anything to a party that is not a biological relative, you need to detail that in a will. You can find more information on the need to prepare a will throughout our site.