How to Write a Will in Virginia

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To make a will in Virginia, you can prepare a handwritten holographic will or sign a printed will in front of two witnesses who then sign the will themselves. It is also a good idea to have the will notarized.

A will is a legal document in which you set out who is to inherit your property when you die. It is enforceable in Virginia if you write it out in your own hand and sign it, or if a printed will is witnessed and signed by two competent adults. Virginia law does not require that the will be notarized.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

In Virginia, any mentally competent person over the age of 18 can make a will. If you have a substantial estate and/or anticipate some complicating issues to arise, consider hiring an estate attorney to draft your will.

Preparing a Will

A will is a writing that sets out who you want your property and assets to belong to when you die. No particular form is required. You can also name the person you want to be in charge of probating your will and your choice of a guardian for your minor children. If you die without a will in Virginia, the court will divide your property among your near relatives.

Wills generally serve the same purposes in every state, but the rules for making a will vary from state to state. It's critical to know the rules in your state of residence to be sure that your will is valid and will be enforced after you die according to your wishes.

Making a Holographic Will in Virginia

Virginia law provides several options for residents who want to make a valid will. This allows you to pick the type that meets your needs. In Virginia, a holographic will is enforceable. To make a valid holographic will, you must write out the entire document in your own hand. Then you must sign and date the will. Once you have done this, you have prepared a holographic will that will be enforced in Virginia.

Witnessed Wills in Virginia

You can also use a printed will in Virginia. You can create and type the will yourself, use a printed form will or hire a lawyer to prepare a will for you. Then, you have to sign the will, also known as executing the will.

Virginia requires that two competent adults watch you sign the printed will. These are called witnesses. They must also sign the will themselves in front of you. Without the two witness' signatures, your printed will is not valid. Your witnesses may be called into court when your will is probated. The judge will ask them to testify that you signed the will and that you knew what you were signing.

Wills Can, but Need Not, Be Notarized

Some states require that the signatures on your will be notarized, but Virginia is not one of them. On the other hand, the Virginia State Bar Association recommends that you consider notarizing your will.

If you and your witnesses sign your will in the presence of a notary, the will can include a notarized Self-Proving Affidavit. In Virginia, the probate court will presume that a will with a Self-Proving Affidavit has been properly executed, and the witnesses will not have to appear in court to testify.

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About the Author

Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.

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