Estate Laws in Virginia


In each state, estates must be handled according to state laws. When someone leaves an inheritance to descendants or other people, state laws govern how the estate will be dispersed. This action can cause contention, but knowing the laws can prepare people for the often complicated process of estate dispersal. Numerous contingencies exist, but several important basics will provide a solid foundation to understanding Virginia estate law.

Personal Representative

The person administering the state, often termed “personal representative,” must qualify with the probate department of the Clerk of the Circuit Court by showing them she has a strong understanding of estate law. This person then becomes responsible for dispersing the estate correctly according to the will and state law, and becomes liable for any discrepancies. However, in simple cases such as the estate passing on to only a surviving spouse, no personal representative may be necessary.

Family Allowance

Regardless of who the estate holder chooses to give money and property when he dies, he must leave money to his spouse and children, if children are still minors. Assuming funds exist, the amount may be paid in monthly installments of up to $1,500, or a total sum of up to $18,000, depending on what the estate administrator determines is fair.

Portion of Estate

The spouse or surviving minors may inherit up to an additional $15,000 of the value of furniture, vehicles, and other material goods, regardless of what the estate holder has specified in the will, if funds are available. Furthermore, they specify, the spouse may receive up to $15,000 of the home’s value, and if the estate holder had no spouse, surviving minor children will receive the money.

Property in Another State

If the estate holder owned property out of state, the laws of the other state will apply. In some cases, the survivors (spouse and children) of the estate holder or the executor may gain permission from the other state’s courts to sell that estate without a will.


The person receiving the estate has responsibility for paying the estate taxes in any state where recipients must pay taxes, according to FindLaw. In Virginia, recipients of estates from people who died before July 1, 2007 must pay taxes, but estates of people who died after that date do not require taxes, according to the Virginia Department of Taxation.

Contesting a Will

Survivors may contest a will for several reasons, such as the estate holder’s mental functioning or unfair coercion by a person who unethically gained her confidence and benefited from the will. Survivors must file the will within six months, although minors, any uninformed survivors, or incapacitated individuals have a longer period to apply.

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