Category Archives: Disinheriting Family Members

Undue Influence in Virginia: Does the Undue Influencer Have to Be a Beneficiary?

Without question, one of the most common estate disputes we see centers around allegations that one person unduly influenced another person to write (or re-write) a will or trust.  The typical situation involves an elderly person, no longer capable of living independently, who becomes increasingly reliant on another person for care and assistance. Under Virginia law, undue influence occurs when a testator’s free will is destroyed due to the influencer’s close relationship with the testator.  This theory is one of the most common methods used to attack a will or trust.  There are different ways to prove undue influence.  Undue …

[ CONTINUE READING ]

Posted in Court Opinions, Disinheriting Family Members, Elder Law Disputes, Fiduciary Accounting Requirements, General, Legal Terminology, New Laws, Preventing Disputes, Trust Disputes \ Comments Off on Undue Influence in Virginia: Does the Undue Influencer Have to Be a Beneficiary?

Top Four Estate Disputes from 2016

With the end of 2016 upon us, now is a fitting time to look back at some of the top estate disputes from this past year. 2016 was a typical year in that, unsurprisingly, people continued to die and families continued to fight over estates. The following are some of the major estate disputes that graced the headlines this past year. Note that this is just a sample of some of the major ones; there were several rather prominent ones this past year that I’m unable to write about, whether because I or my colleagues at LeClairRyan represented parties in …

[ CONTINUE READING ]

Posted in Celebrity Estate Disputes, Disinheriting Family Members, Elective share, Preventing Disputes \ Comments Off on Top Four Estate Disputes from 2016

Changes To Elective Share Law in Virginia Will Lead To More Litigation

The Virginia General Assembly overhauled Virginia’s elective share statute this past year, and one of the big results will likely be an increase in litigation. My colleague Brett Herbert recently wrote a blog post summarizing some of the more significant changes in the elective share framework that go into effect on January 1, 2017 (that post can be accessed here). This post focuses on a specific change that adds a time requirement in which a surviving spouse asserting a claim for the elective share must file a lawsuit to determine the elective share. Under the prior Virginia law, when a surviving …

[ CONTINUE READING ]

Posted in Disinheriting Family Members, Elective share, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on Changes To Elective Share Law in Virginia Will Lead To More Litigation

A Post-Mortem, Spousal Surprise: Can My Husband Write Me Out of His Will?

Imagine this potentially devastating situation.  Your spouse unexpectedly dies.  You find his will and discover, shockingly, that he left everything to his adult son (or his mistress)!  Is there anything you can do? This situation commonly arises when a husband and wife are separated but not yet divorced. Under Virginia law, a spouse possesses certain rights to what is known as the elective share.  Think of the elective share as a floor for a spouse’s inheritance.  It can be invoked even if the deceased spouse writes the surviving spouse out of his or her will. Under current law, a surviving …

[ CONTINUE READING ]

Posted in Disinheriting Family Members, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on A Post-Mortem, Spousal Surprise: Can My Husband Write Me Out of His Will?

Who Would Inherit Darth Vader’s Estate?

Who would be the beneficiary of the estate of Darth Vader? The answer is more than just an exercise in Star Wars fiction; in fact, the answer can teach us important lessons about estate disputes in our real world. In case you did not read my earlier blog post, in which I asked the same question about Han Solo’s estate, you can find that post here. Note: for those who are not familiar with Star Wars, yet who want to follow along with the discussion below, it’s important to known that Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader are the same person (Anakin …

[ CONTINUE READING ]

Posted in Celebrity Estate Disputes, Disinheriting Family Members, Slayer Rule, Trust Disputes, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on Who Would Inherit Darth Vader’s Estate?

The Fictional Fight Over Han Solo’s Estate

Who would be the beneficiary of the estate of Han Solo?  Star Wars is obviously a fictional universe, and there is no indication in Episode 7 (or any other canon material that I’m aware of) that speaks to whether Han Solo had a will or not. Nevertheless, it’s both fun and educational to analyze the answer, because if the same laws in effect in Virginia were in effect in the Star Wars universe, Han Solo’s death would likely have set off a wave of litigation among numerous characters in a galaxy far, far away. First, let’s consider what assets Han …

[ CONTINUE READING ]

Posted in Celebrity Estate Disputes, Disinheriting Family Members, Slayer Rule, Trust Disputes, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on The Fictional Fight Over Han Solo’s Estate

Top 10 Ways To Be Disinherited (And How To Avoid That) (Part 2)

This is Part 2 in the series of the top 10 factors that I’ve seen that lead to people being disinherited from a relative’s or friend’s estate plan. In Part 1, I discussed 5 of the 10 factors, and the following round out the final 5 factors. Knowing these factors will hopefully help ensure that you not only avoid being disinherited, but perhaps, more importantly, help ensure that you have deeper and more meaningful relationships with family and friends: 6) File a Guardianship and Conservatorship Action Against a Relative There are two main reasons why a person would file a …

[ CONTINUE READING ]

Posted in Disinheriting Family Members, Elder Law Disputes, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on Top 10 Ways To Be Disinherited (And How To Avoid That) (Part 2)

Top 10 Ways To Be Disinherited (And How To Avoid That) (Part 1)

I’ve handled over 100 estate disputes, and based upon my experience the following are 5 of the top 10 factors that I’ve seen that lead to people being disinherited from a relative’s or friend’s estate plan. I’ll follow this blog post with another one in the next week or two discussing the final 5 factors. Knowing these factors will hopefully help ensure that you not only avoid being disinherited, but perhaps, more importantly, help ensure that you have deeper and more meaningful relationships with family and friends: 1) Don’t Visit or Call Your Relative This is far and away the …

[ CONTINUE READING ]

Posted in Disinheriting Family Members, Elder Law Disputes, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on Top 10 Ways To Be Disinherited (And How To Avoid That) (Part 1)

Virginia Supreme Court Issues New Ruling Regarding Missing Wills

The Virginia Supreme Court recently issued a ruling relating to missing wills and the legal standard courts must apply when an original will cannot be found and therefore an executor seeks to probate a copy of the will. While the case does not necessarily make new law, it does clarify that the proponent of the non-original will is not required to prove why the original will was lost. First, some background: under Virginia law, a party seeking to probate a will must probate the original will, and not a photocopy. In the vast majority of instances, this does not pose …

[ CONTINUE READING ]

B.B. King’s Estate: Murder Allegations and the Slayer Rule

Two of B.B. King’s children have recently alleged that King’s business manager and personal assistant poisoned him prior to his death on May 14, 2015. The allegations surrounding the blues legend’s death implicate the slayer rule: a rule in the vast majority of states that provides that if a person is convicted of murdering a testator (the person who executed a will), the murderer cannot inherit any portion of the testator’s estate, but rather is deemed to have predeceased the testator for purposes of the distribution of the testator’s estate.

Posted in Celebrity Estate Disputes, Disinheriting Family Members, Slayer Rule \ Comments Off on B.B. King’s Estate: Murder Allegations and the Slayer Rule