Virginia Wills Lawyer in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince Willaim County

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How The Gordon Law Firm can help you with your Virginia will.

Lawyers Alex Gordon and Carlos Wall of The Gordon Law Firm have been helping people understand Virginia law for more than a combined 30 yearsVirginia attorney Carlos Wall can help you prepare a will and can guide you through the process of leaving a coherent road map to people who are left behind after you pass away.   Contact us at 703.218.8416 or email us at

Why do you really need a will?   First you deserve a basic explanation of what a Virginia will does for you.

The purpose of a will is to provide for the distribution of your assets after your death. To be effective, a will must give clear and specific instructions a person who you choose to be in charge of following your written directions.  That person is called an “executor” because he or she executes the instructions in your will.

The money, property, and personal items a person leaves behind after they pass away is called an “estate”.    Your executor is the person in charge of distributing the items in your estate.

The will is the road map for the executor.  A well-written Virginia will makes it easy for your executor to follow your directions.   With the will, he or she can distribute your property and assets in the exact way you wish after you pass away.  Your will tells the executor what to do with the estate and how to distribute the assets to your beneficiaries.

A “beneficiary” is a person or an entity that is designated to receive an asset in your will.  Beneficiaries could include your spouse, your children, siblings, friends, religious organizations, charities, or other entities.

If you intend to leave money to your children and they are under age 18, your will can make provisions to provide for their care and manage their assets.

What Happens if I Die Without a Will in Virginia?

If you pass away without making a will in Virginia, then your “estate”, or what you left behind, is called “intestate”.

“Intestate” means that Virginia law will determine how your assets in your estate are distributed.  Virginia has established its own road map of directions on how your money, property, and personal items are given away.  These Virginia laws are called the laws of “intestacy”.    

The Commonwealth of Virginia appoints an executor of your “estate”.  The state's executor follows the governments road map under the Virginia “laws of intestacy.”  Usually, this means that your spouse or your children will inherit assets in your “estate”. 

Virginia Intestate Law – Who will get your assets if you die without a will?

If you are married, first priority is given to your spouse.  It does not matter if you are separated and considering divorce.  Unless the divorce is final, the entire “estate” goes to your spouse.  

If you are not married, or your spouse is deceased, the assets in your “estate” will go instead to your children.

If you have no children that are alive, your assets would be transferred by the state to your parents.

If you never had or no longer have a spouse, and you have no children, and your parents are deceased, then all of your assets, under Virginia intestate law, would be given by the state to your siblings.

If you never had or no longer have a spouse, and you have no children, and your parents are deceased If you have no siblings or they are deceased, the state will distribute your assets to any other relatives if they can be found.

Finally, according to Virginia intestate law, if you pass away and there are no relatives to inherit your property, your all of your property, moneys, and personal items would be given by the executor to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

To avoid this situation, everyone, no matter their economic status, should create a will in Virginia.

Obviously, intestate succession law, or just following the Commonwealth of Virginia’s road map, may not encompass your wishes upon death. 

Your estate can be divided up in "unusual" ways if you pass away without a will.

It is extremely important to consider making a will when you have a blended family because intestacy could operate to disinherit certain beneficiaries you may wish to provide for.

According to Virginia intestate law, If you have children from a prior marriage, and are newly married, your children will receive two-thirds of your assets while the other one-third of your assets will pass to your new wife.  The intestate law does not specify to the state’s executor what pieces of your estate go to each party.  Your home where your spouse lives, your cars, and other assets might need be sold to be divided up among your children and spouse to follow Virginia intestate law.

Again, intestate succession may not encompass your wishes.  It is important to discuss your specific wishes with an attorney to ensure that they are effectively carried out.

Drafting your own will can ensure that you determine who will receive your assets when you pass away.

What is required to make a will in Virginia?

In order to successfully create a will you must be of the proper age, mental capacity, the will must be signed and in writing, and the signing must be witnessed by at least two individuals.

First, you must be eighteen years old to create a will. 

Second, you must have sufficient mental capacity to create a will. 

Third, your will must be in writing and signed by you or by another person in your presence and under your direction.  Oral wills are not valid.

Fourth, two people must witness your will.  They must also sign your will in your presence.  While not required, it is also a good idea to get the will notarized.

The logic behind these four requirements is that they will prevent fraud and ensure the wishes of the individual.

Should I make a will on my own, or should I have an attorney do it?

No law requires an attorney draft a will.  It is sound practice to have an attorney draft a will to give effect to your wishes.  This is true especially when you wish to provide for people that would normally be excluded from intestate succession.  Also, a will drafted by an attorney is less likely to have confusing or contrary language.  Providing clear and concise instructions upon your death will ensure your wishes are carried out and your beneficiaries do not fight over the terms of your will.

What should I consider before contacting an attorney to draft my will?

First, do you have minor children? 

You will want to name a trustworthy person to care for your children and manage their assets if you pass away and your young children still need supervision and support.  This trustworthy person who will be caring for your children is called a “guardian”.  You should discuss who should be your children’s guardian with your spouse and, of course, with the potential guardian prior to naming the person in your will.  They must be willing to serve as the guardian.

Second, you must name a trustworthy “executor” to administer your “estate”. You can choose an attorney, an heir, your spouse, or even a good friend to be the “executor” of your estate. As with the guardian, the executor’s job is not simple.  Make sure they are willing to serve and spend the time and energy following your directives after you pass way. 

Third, think about how to you want to distribute your property and assets.  Who should get your estate?

Think of the people or organizations that you wish to give your assets to.  These people are called your “beneficiaries”.

Once you choose your beneficiaries for your Virginia will, you should then make a comprehensive list of your assets.  These assets could include boats, cars, houses and land.  They could include retirement accounts and stocks or bonds.  Other assets could be personal items like jewelry, dishes, art, and collections.  All of these items combined are called your “estate”.

Please contact The Gordon Law Firm for easy to follow forms you can use to make sure your list of assets is complete.

A will provides you with peace of mind

When your will is properly executed, you must keep it safe and you must tell your beneficiaries how to access your will.  You can also give them copies.  Your attorney can also keep a copy for safekeeping. 

In a time full of sorrow and worry, a will can eliminate some of the uncertainty among your loved ones after you have passed away.   It can also provide you peace of mind that your estate and its assets will go to the people who you chose, rather than letting the Commonwealth of Virginia make those choices.  In addition to resolving issues about major parts of your estate like accounts and property, your Virginia will can also work to prevent disagreements about the distribution of your personal items among family and friends after you have died.

The Gordon Law Firm will guide you through this process.  The Virginia will drafted by attorney Carlos Wall will help provide a coherent road map to people who are left behind.  Call us to help you draft your will today at 703.218.8416 or email us at