Does Virginia Recognize Wills from Another State? Ashburn Estate Planning Lawyer Provides the Answer

According to migration data tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 264,000 people relocated to the Commonwealth of Virginia from another state in recent years. This likely means thousands of people who drafted a Will in another state will need to get the answer to an important question: Does Virginia recognize a Will drafted and notarized in a different state?

Here is the answer: A Last Will and Testament created and effectuated in a different state will generally be considered valid in Virginia if it meets the legal requirements.

Requirements to Create Legally Enforceable Will in Virginia

If you do not have a Will and recently relocated to Virginia, now is the time to take action and create a Will (or other estate planning instrument, such as a trust). In order to properly create a Will in Virginia, there are specific statutory requirements that must be met, including:

  • You must be 18 years of age or older
  • You must be mentally competent to create a Will.
  • Your Will must be in writing
  • Your Will must be signed by you, or by another person who is in your presence, and under your direction.
  • You must create and sign your Will freely and voluntarily.
  • You must have at least two witnesses present when you sign your will, and these two witnesses must sign your will in front of you to prove its validity.
  • The will should contain a self-proving affidavit to eliminate the need to later locate the witnesses and have them testify in court

Why It Makes Sense to Update Your Out-of-State Will

Even though Virginia will recognize an out-of-state Will, that does not mean maintaining a non-Virginia Will is the best course of action once someone relocates to the Commonwealth. Here are just a few reasons why it makes much more sense to proactively update your Will by conferring with an experienced Virginia trust and estate planning attorney after moving to the Commonwealth:

  • Logistical Issues with Personal Representative – It is fairly common for people to name a loved one as their personal representative in their Will. Oftentimes, the named relative lived fairly close by or within driving distance. Well, once you relocate to Virginia, that relative is no longer close by and if they remain as your named representative, it could present significant logistical hurdles for that individual when you pass on.
  • Marital Property Ownership Laws – Where you resided prior to moving to Virginia could potentially have significantly different state laws concerning marital property ownership. For example, if your Will was executed in a community property state and you move to an equitable distribution state (i.e., Virginia), you should strongly consider updating your Will.
  • Tax Implications of Moving to a New State – State inheritance taxes and estate taxes differ greatly from state to state. For example, Virginia has no estate tax or inheritance tax. If you, hypothetically, moved from Vermont, Rhode Island, or New York to Virginia, then there may be significant tax implications for your estate assets.
  • Probate Process – People are routinely surprised to learn that the protocols in which a Will is admitted into probate differs from one state to the next. This means that even if your Will is valid in your prior state of residence, your beneficiaries could be required to comply with Virginia law when it comes to probate.

Have Questions? Contact InSight Law to Speak to an Experienced Trust & Estate Planning Attorney

If you are ready to update your out-of-state Will, or simply want additional information or legal advice about trusts, wills, and estate planning, take action by contacting our office to schedule a meeting with a member of our team. You can fill out a quick contact form here or call us at (703) 654-6019.