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Detailing intestate succession in Virginia

Estate planning is often a hot-button issue for many in Warrenton. Perhaps it is the reality of dealing with one's own mortality that prompts many to put off the process. There also may be more practical concerns as to why so many have yet to draft a will (indeed, information shared by the American Association of Retired Persons shows that only four in 10 American adults have a will). No one wants to cause contention amongst those they leave behind. Instead, many may think that by not having a will, their heirs will be able to decide how to divide up their assets. 

Unfortunately, that is not the case. When one dies intestate (the legal term assigned to those who die without a will), the state determines how their estates are to be divided. The guidelines governing intestate succession in Virginia can be found in Section 64.2-200 of the state's Wills, Trusts and Fiduciaries Code. According to this law, one's spouse inherits their entire intestate estate if they leave behind no surviving issue (direct descendants) that are not also the issue of the surviving spouse. If there are, then that issue receives two-thirds of the estate, and the remaining third goes to the surviving spouse. 

In the event that one who dies intestate is preceded in death by their spouse, the order of succession goes as follows: 

  • Issue
  • Parents
  • Siblings (and their issue)

In the event that there are no surviving relatives in one's immediate family, their intestate estate would be divided equally amongst their paternal and maternal kindred, with their grandparents being the first to inherit their assets, and then the issue of those parties, so on and so forth to the last of their lineal ancestors and their descendants. 

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