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Virginia Estate Planning Questions & Answers
2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Family Law for Virginia on
Q: What are my legal options?

My mother passed away last year and was living on family owned land that was supposed to be put in her name and never was. The land is part of my grandfathers estate that passed away 1987-88.Now there is a dispute on how much land there is in the estate my grandfather left that was never... View More

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Jan 22, 2024

Your alternatives are to get a competent lawyer to review the titles and the estates so you can make a proper claim in this "heir property" case; or, you can bend over and wait to find where the moon don't shine. If you think this is a DIY case, you are making the second choice. The... View More

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Who is responsible for writing the notarial blocks on real estate and estate planning documents?

I'm a mobile notary in Virginia and I'm certified to notarize real estate packages and living trust packages.

Why are so many notarial blocks in these documents written so that they are not compliant with Virginia notary law?

I also have specific examples of legal... View More

Nina Whitehurst
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answered on Dec 10, 2023

Many states have notarial affidavit requirements that are unique to that state. California is one notable example. Florida is another. And apparently Virginia has unique requirements as well.

At the same time, it is common for some entities in the real estate world, especially lenders,...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for Virginia on
Q: Do proceeds from real estate go into an estate account or directly to beneficiaries/next of kin?

My father died a year ago and we are still settling debt and selling property. There was no will. The estate is handled by an administrator. We sold a property and our closing lawyer says we get the proceeds and they do not go into the estate account. There are still debts to be settled. If we... View More

Dominic Paul Lascara
Dominic Paul Lascara
answered on Dec 5, 2023

Unfortunately, I need more information to properly answer your questions. Was there a will? Is the estate being handled by an Executor or an Administrator? Does the fiduciary have power of sale over the real estate? Normally, if there are debts and claims owing by the estate, no probate assets... View More

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Tax Law for Virginia on
Q: i am from Virginia and have questions abuot Estates and Trusts.

is the value of a Trust ever properly counted in thevalue of the Estate when the person whi died is also the grantor of the TRust?

T. Augustus Claus
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answered on Sep 20, 2023

In Virginia, the inclusion of trust assets in a decedent's gross estate largely depends on the nature of the trust and the powers retained by the decedent. If the deceased was the grantor of a revocable trust, meaning they retained the ability to alter or revoke the trust during their... View More

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Landlord - Tenant and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: An estate is trying to evict us. The owner died but we paid him a cash towards the property with verbal agreement.

We made a gentlemans agreement with the owner to rent to own his property. We paid him $25k for down payment and as a show of good faith he wrote us a quit claim for 2 trailers on the land. He passed and now the estate is trying to evict us with refusal of any funds, but the beneficiary (his... View More

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Jun 19, 2023

Oral agreements on real estate are not binding. All contracts regarding real estate must be in writing. Sometimes, a writing can be found from things that aren’t thought of as writings, such as an email, receipt, or check. You need to review your specific facts including every written... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Landlord - Tenant and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: An estate is trying to evict us. The owner died but we paid him a cash towards the property with verbal agreement.

We made a gentlemans agreement with the owner to rent to own his property. We paid him $25k for down payment and as a show of good faith he wrote us a quit claim for 2 trailers on the land. He passed and now the estate is trying to evict us with refusal of any funds, but the beneficiary (his... View More

James H. Wilson Jr.
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James H. Wilson Jr.
answered on Jun 20, 2023

The wording of your description of the circumstances is not clear. Contracts can be verbal or implied through action. Verbal contracts can be written or oral. A trailer may be personal property or it may be part of real estate if attached and the title is changed. An estate acts through the... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law and Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: 2nd great grandfather leaves 85 acres to 14 children and all descendants, 1 still alive. Every descendant entitled?

a family trust was established and every document mentioned every child by name and says and their descendants have a shared right to use of the land. 2nd great grandfather died in 1930 and up until 1986 all documents list all siblings, some of their children(my deceased grandmother was named) and... View More

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Jun 7, 2023

The argument is most likely specious, but real estate title is decided by what the documents say, not what you say. Buy a consult with a lawyer licensed in the state where the property lies, get a title search, and get a reliable answer. You need to do this before you surrender your and your... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: My spouse and I own a home together. We both have adult kids from previous marriage. If one of us should die without

a will in place, does the step kids automatically get part of the home? Or will the home go to the surviving spouse? in Virginia

James H. Wilson Jr.
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James H. Wilson Jr.
answered on Jun 2, 2023

When a Virginia resident dies intestate, real property passes according to the laws of intestate succession starting in Virginia Code Section 64.2-200. First, it will go to the surviving spouse, unless there are surviving children of the decedent who are not children of the surviving spouse. If... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: My spouse and I own a home together. We both have adult kids from previous marriage. If one of us should die without

a will in place, does the step kids automatically get part of the home? Or will the home go to the surviving spouse? in Virginia

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Jun 2, 2023

You need a will or a trust or careful retitling of the house. If you own the house by tenants by entireties, then it will pass outside of probate to the survivor of the two of you, and it will go entirely to the survivor's children after the survivor passes. The other children will get... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My grandma had a trust but apparently signed her car title over to me like I had bought it. Does that mean it is mine?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Apr 28, 2023

It may depend a bit on the state, but if she signed and delivered the car title to you, you are the title owner. The change of title should be filed an MVA/DMV, and you should make sure the insurance matches the title. You are responsible for the vehicle. On the other hand, if the signing of the... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My grandma had a trust but apparently signed her car title over to me like I had bought it. Does that mean it is mine?
James H. Wilson Jr.
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James H. Wilson Jr.
answered on Apr 29, 2023

One of the challenges with trusts is funding. Title to property must be transferred to the trust by conveyance to the trustee of the trust in order for it to be part of the trust corpus, or body of property in trust.

Title to motor vehicles in Virginia is evidenced by a DMV Certificate of...
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1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law and Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: Is a change in power of attorney valid if it was done within 90 days of being diagnosed in dementia?
Maria T Patente
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answered on Mar 20, 2023

A diagnosis alone does is not complete proof that a person lacked capacity to execute a valid Power of Attorney. In addition, "dementia" is a general term and can include varying degrees of inability to process information accurately. However, for a Power of Attorney to be valid, the... View More

3 Answers | Asked in Divorce, Estate Planning, Family Law and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Can something you say in an email be the difference between winning and losing a lawsuit?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Feb 13, 2023

Of course, it can. An email is a written document, and, subject to authentication, which, arguably, is easier for an email than a letter, it is potential evidence. Early in the Internet Age, I used to love getting people to admit things in emails that they'd never write in a letter, and, to... View More

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3 Answers | Asked in Divorce, Estate Planning, Family Law and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Q: Can something you say in an email be the difference between winning and losing a lawsuit?
James H. Wilson Jr.
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James H. Wilson Jr.
answered on Feb 13, 2023

An e-mail may be admissible in evidence if a party can establish a hearsay exception and authenticate the communication. Hearsay is an out-of-court statement a party wants to introduce into evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. If made by a party, an e-mail may qualify as a party... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: My ex-husband left the majority of his money to our son in a trust. He also left $80,000 to two charities but did not

have the funds to cover same. Must the money for these charitable bequests be taken from my son's trust?

Nina Whitehurst
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answered on Jan 31, 2023

Your question does not provide enough information for anyone to provide an answer. For example, we do not know if your husband is still alive or deceased. Either way, however, we also cannot see the precise language by which those bequests were made. The precise wording matters. For example, if... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: My ex-husband left the majority of his money to our son in a trust. He also left $80,000 to two charities but did not

have the funds to cover same. Must the money for these charitable bequests be taken from my son's trust?

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Jan 31, 2023

You need to review these matters with a lawyer. If the trust is a pourover trust which was funded from the estate, you get a different answer than if it was a funded inter vivos trust. It's also different depending on the source of the charitable funds. A review of the will, the trust, and the... View More

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: I would like to live in my house till I die and leave it to my son who lives with me. A neighbor said file a quick claim

I am divorced. want to file quick claim deed . Im

age 90 he lives with me now. a neighbor also said deed of gift

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Jan 16, 2023

Your neighbors are wrong. Giving away your property means giving away your property. It is your son’s property from that date, and he can put you in a nursing home or begin renovations immediately once it is his. The fee cheaper solution is a simple will drafted by a lawyer. If there are other... View More

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: We have existing will and trust. Can we modify current successor trustee with an addendum we create and notarize?
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
answered on Nov 21, 2022

I agree with Mr. Wilson, and I would add that the expense saved by turning this into a DIY job may be dwarfed by the expense of fixing it later. For example, the Will and the Trust should not be modified in the same document. The Will is a transitory documents, but the Trust is active upon... View More

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Virginia on
Q: We have existing will and trust. Can we modify current successor trustee with an addendum we create and notarize?
James H. Wilson Jr.
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James H. Wilson Jr.
answered on Nov 21, 2022

A will may be modfied with a codicil. Most attorney advise against the use of a codicil for various reasons. As it requires the same formalities as a will, the testator is often better off by simply writing a new will.

A trust may be modified in accordance with its terms, or, in certain...
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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Q: My mother passed, had no will, my sister was handling the estate. She works for a criminal attorney that is now handling

My mothers estate? But mind you he couldn't represent me in criminal court because of conflict of interest cause my sister works for him. Should be the same with the estate?? I asked my sister for a copy of estate paper work and I'm getting no response? I need to know what my rights are... View More

Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart
answered on Nov 12, 2022

In my opinion lawyers who focus on one area of the law shouldn't dabble in areas of law they aren't familiar with. It can breed malpractice claims.

There are a lot of missing pieces in your short question. I suggest you consult an experienced probate law firm for a consultation...
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