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Virginia Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: My brother misled everyone about the will & the expensive jewelry pieces are "missing".

ROANOKE, VA NOT MASON, OH...My brother is the executer of my aunt's will that died Nov 2019. He's lied to all of us, supposedly the only 3 expensive pieces of jewelry are "missing" & he told the insurance inventory there wasn't any. He's a jerk to everyone, partly... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Aug 5, 2020

This is the second time I've read this question, but I still don't have an answer you can DIY without a lot more interviewing and potential filing. You need a lawyer, and the lawyer may be able to petition for you to be executor because your brother declines to serve. If the estate is too... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Family Law for Virginia on
Q: Mom passed and half sister is executor. She is keeping all records to herself. Does she have to disclose records to us?

Half sister's name was added to moms bank acct after dad passed, so she says the money is hers. Is this true even if the will states all assets are to be distributed evenly to all heirs? She says low bank balance, but I know otherwise. Are we able to view bank records? Shouldn't she have... Read more »

James D. Williams
James D. Williams answered on Aug 4, 2020

This definitely is going to be something to discuss with an attorney who regularly works with probate.

The executor has control over personal property for the payment of debts, taxes, etc., but there is generally a fiduciary duty that the executor refrain from self-dealing. The executor...
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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law, Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Fathers wife needs his children to sign papers for her to sell his house why would this be?

I have no clue of his will

He married her after he bought house but is trying to sell but cant because his children need to sign paperwork and I have no clue what this means I live in Fredericksburg va the house is in deptford nj

Anthony M. Avery
Anthony M. Avery answered on Jul 15, 2020

Not sure of your question. But it sounds like NJ Intestate Secession probably makes the Decedents' issue Heirs-At-Law along with the surviving spouse. And all Heirs are needed to convey.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My father passed away in 2016. My stepmom and step sister never called me. They stole his will. Can I challenge
F. Paul Maloof
F. Paul Maloof answered on Jul 15, 2020

The challenge that you may make will depend on the status of your father's Estate, whether it is still in the probate court or was already closed by the probate court.

3 Answers | Asked in Tax Law, Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Mom passes intestate in Fairfax Co VA, how can I file her final tax returns after the POA ends?

All assets were liquidated into a POD account years ago, all current income taxes, funeral costs, and debts have already been paid. Only final taxes on bank interest, a modest Social Security income, final IRA distribution costs and the POD account will remain when Mom passes. Does the estate have... Read more »

Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart answered on Jul 10, 2020

I'm sorry for your loss. You may not have to do very much as everything was POD. And that included 'probate'.

I suggest you consult an attorney - in Virginia - to advise you and reassure you of where you are. Elder Law attorneys are familiar with estate law and procedure -...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Who pays utilities bills?I'm delayed for qualification of Executor due to Covid.Courts not open. I'm beneficiary of home

I am the executor. But I have to wait to be qualified. Courts have been closed since March. Everything is delayed due to Supreme Court ruling in Virginia. My parent passed in early May. Bills need to be payed. I am willing to pay from my own money to keep power, water etc going as I already lived... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on May 21, 2020

I'm not sure that you have any duties until the Court appoints you as Executor or Administrator, but it would seem to be in your interest to pay the bills to keep the utilities turned on. In many places, utility companies have either voluntarily or by state orders indicated that they will not... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: My mom willed my brother her home. He lives there. It houses antique items she wanted me to have and did vocalize to him

There are also items from my childhood and property I am interested to divide up such as china, old coins, etc. My brother is hostile , we do not speak to one another. Though his is girlfriend, I am told he is stating "off limits "to his home and contents. What recourse do I have? If he... Read more »

James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr. answered on May 18, 2020

A will typically might contain specific bequests of personal property, or reference to a list that may or may not be binding on the executor, specific devises of real property, and a residuary clause, which transfers all the rest of the estate to particular beneficiaries. Your question does not... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: Brother is exec of my mom’s will. He Submitted inventory for probate court in VA. He is On her joint savings account

The account was Her money, his name on it mainly to help her when she was ill. Account =$40,000. Will this money be included in the estate to be distributed to her children? Does he have ability to claim this as his own? Thank you.

James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr. answered on May 16, 2020

There is no clear answer to your question without knowing additional facts.

Under Virginia Code Section 64.2-620, certain transfers upon death accounts are nontestamentary, meaning they are not part of the probate estate and pass outside the will. This includes payable on death (POD) bank...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My wife just passed we were living apart for 5 years no formal separation agreement. She opened credit cards on her own

And was with freedom agency. Am I responsible for paying it ,no will, she did buy my son a truck in her name and the house is in both mine and her name

James D. Williams
James D. Williams answered on May 9, 2020

Virginia would not consider you divorced unless you filed for divorce. From there, intestacy procedures and the terms of the contract for the credit cards would apply. In theory, you should be able to contact the credit card companies and close out the accounts if they are solely in your... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Contracts, Estate Planning, Arbitration / Mediation Law and International Law for Virginia on
Q: How can I find out if I have been a victim of power of attorney fraud?

My late spouse was from another country and owned property there. I allowed my brother in law to be my P.O.A., to handle that business as I could not go to said country. I haven't heard anything from anyone in 2 years. I am in West Virginia and my in laws are in Texas.

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar answered on May 6, 2020

Of all the categories you chose, maybe the best one to start with could be to contact an estate planning/probate attorney. They could probably assess what kind of investigative/legal resources are needed. You could look up such attorneys here (Find-a-Lawyer, above), or through your own independent... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: What is allotment of dower mean?

There's 233,000 Acrea of land owned by family name.The farm has been owned and manned by my family for over 100 years .(with whom I've never met and by blood I am related)Is there any rights I have to this farm?

Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart answered on May 5, 2020

There is no way to tell from your question. You don't specify whether the land is located in Virginia or some other state - 233,000 acres is huge for Virginia; more likely in a western state. The laws of each state are different.

That said, you would need a title search to determine...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Land Use & Zoning and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: As one remainderman of my moms life estate (my brother is the other) can I build a house on the property if all agree?

My grandparents left the house and 50 acres to my mom as owner of the life estate. My brother and I will inherit the house and 50 acres after her death to be split evenly (we have already agreed my brother gets the house + 20 acres and I get the remaining 30 acres). Am I able to build a house now... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on May 2, 2020

If everyone agrees yes. But you do need to check building and zoning codes. You might be prevented from building a house without a legal subdivision. Or not. It is something to be verified.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: What roughly is the cost of setting up a simple Estate for a brother who recently died with no will?
James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr. answered on Apr 18, 2020

A person may die testate, with a will, or intestate, without a will. Whether to probate an estate is an important threshold issue. In some instances, it is advantageous to probate an estate or will. In some other instances, it is not necessary, or the costs, inconvenience and liability outweigh... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: TOD and broker division

My father in law used a broker to invest monies. He passed away 01/28/2020 when stocks were at their height. When the broker divided up the estate, stocks were down substantially and the amount received does not reflect TOD Cost Basis. Now there was an “unrealized loss” I don’t... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Apr 16, 2020

The stocks obtained a step up in basis when your father in law died. This is a good thing. Now if an heir chooses to sell a stock when it's down, the heir will be able to deduct the loss on his or her tax return.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: Why would one make their family bank the power of attn. of their estate and family business

When my father died my mother gave the POA of her estate and family business instead of my brother who works at the business or me, her daughter. I do not work at the family business

James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr. answered on Mar 31, 2020

Many banks have trust departments. Some folks pick banks as their trustee, guardian or attorney-in-fact because the trust departments have skilled, knowledgeable, full-time, professionals who understand their fiduciary duties and all the reporting requirements. Money, and money management, can... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: My aunt passed away with no will and my mother, her only living sibling, has been taken care of the arrangements.

She was told she had to split the estate with 2 of my cousins from an already deceased sibling. Is this true? And if so, how much is she required to split it? 50-25-25, 33-33-33?

James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr. answered on Mar 25, 2020

If a Virginia resident dies intestate, without a will, and without a trust, his or her real property not title in survivorship, and the surplus of personal property, will pass according to the course of descents or laws of intestate succession. If that resident has no surviving spouse, no... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Social Security for Virginia on
Q: My ex husband passed away and our kids have been receiving SS benefits through high school graduation.

I teach in a public school and am currently 53 and dating someone. Are there still benefits to be paid out to me from ex’s SS if my kids already got money? If so, would I have to wait until age 67 to receive? If I’ve worked steadily from age 21 is it even worth it for me to think about that... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Mar 19, 2020

The fact that your children drew benefits against your ex husband's earnings record will have no effect on your eventual ability to draw against his earnings record but you must have been married for at least 10 years, you can't draw until he starts drawing, and you can't draw until... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law, Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: can a financial conservator force me to take my deceased MIL's trailer?

The financial conservator sent me a letter saying that since i paid for the funeral then as reinbursment of the estate that i could take the trailer. I dont want the trailer. It would cost way more to have it moved off the lot then what i paid for the funeral. if i dont sign her form, then what... Read more »

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg answered on Mar 2, 2020

Why don't you start with explaining that to the personal representative (PR), noting that you would like to be reimbursed for the funeral expenses, and the trailer won't accomplish that. If the PR is acting fairly and honestly, you will detect that immediately. If not, you might need to... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: Name change of beneficiary in will and trust documents.

Can I just make a note in the documents, or do I need to see a lawyer.

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Feb 25, 2020

Definitely see a lawyer! Amendments to wills must be made with the same formalities as were required when the will was made. Most of the time that means two witnesses and sometimes a notary (not always). If you scribble changes in without following those formalities, a court may very well... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Insurance Defense and Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: My husband was a beneficiary to an insurance policy for his mother. He passed away right before she did.

She was in Va. Who becomes the beneficiary now?

Nina Whitehurst
Nina Whitehurst answered on Feb 24, 2020

It depends on how the beneficiary designation in the life insurance policy was worded. If there is a contingent beneficiary, it would go to the contingent beneficiary. If there was no contingent beneficiary, then it might go to your husband's estate.

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