Cumberland, MD asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia

Q: When my Aunt dies, what will need to be done to give out monies/belonging left in her will?

I currently have guardianship and conservatorship over my Aunt. She is elderly and in a nursing home with hospice care. Hospice has asked me to start preparing for her funeral arrangements. She has a living will that will leave everything to myself and my brother. Is there a legal way I am supposed to handle the situation, or because I have full power already, do I just divide what is due between myself and my brother?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr.
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Glen Allen, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: A living will is an advance medical directive. It contains instructions for medical care if the principal becomes incapacitated.

I will assume you mean a will and I will assume that your aunt resides in Virginia, although you appear to be posting from Maryland.

Once your aunt dies, you no longer have the right to manage her affairs as her guardian and/or conservator, as that is a personal appointment by the court. After she dies, there is an estate consisting of her assets and liabilities. You may be able to qualify as personal representative of her estate and assume the duties of paying the debts and claims against her estate, and distributing the assets to those entitled to them, according to the provisions of her will. A threshold issue is whether her estate should be probated, and secondarily, whether you would want to be the personal representative.

You may be able to do some estate planning for her while she is still alive. In addition, in certain instances, a testator can make advancements - gifts of property to a beneficiary of the will while he or she is still alive. You should consult with an experienced Virginia estate planning attorney to explore those avenues of relief.

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