Tag Archives: Estate Documents

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 …

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

Till Death Do Us Part. . . or at Least Until the Divorce Becomes Final

When important changes occur in life, it is advisable to reevaluate your estate planning to ensure it continues to meet the goals and objectives you have for your estate and your beneficiaries – and going through a divorce is no exception. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the final decree of divorce automatically impacts certain limited aspects of estate planning but not all – and a separation – even a lengthy separation for many years – does not. Therefore it is important to note what relief is provided automatically by statute and when you must act to change your estate documents …

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Posted in Divorce, Preventing Disputes, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on Till Death Do Us Part. . . or at Least Until the Divorce Becomes Final

Perfect Estate Plans (On Paper) Can Still Lead to Litigation

Having handled approximately 100 estate disputes, I’m frequently asked what people can do with their estate plans to try to prevent disputes from arising among their family members. Having a proper estate plan in place is unquestionably a key component to preventing a dispute among family members. But perhaps equally important is naming competent, honest people to the fiduciary positions in an estate plan. Here’s what I mean.  The most well-written estate plan can’t prevent the following scenarios: a trustee who mismanages a trust, a trustee who refuses to inform and report to the beneficiaries as required by law, or …

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Posted in Fiduciary Duties, Trust Disputes, Will Disputes \ Comments Off on Perfect Estate Plans (On Paper) Can Still Lead to Litigation