Your Legal Rights


Do I Have To Make A Will? No one has to make a will. However, a will allows you to state exactly which persons you wish to receive your property and it also allows you to name a person called an Executor who will see that your property is distributed as you wish.

This is legal information. If you want legal advice that is specific to your situation, you need to talk to an attorney. To find out if you are eligible for free legal advice or representation, you can contact Southwest Virginia Legal Aid at or you can call toll free at 1-888-201-2772.

What Happens To My Property If I Die Without A Will? There are different kinds of property. If you have a life insurance policy, you will have named a person called the beneficiary, to receive the money after you die. You don’t need a will in order for that person to get the money. If you own a vehicle, a home or a bank account with someone else jointly with the right of survivorship, that property goes to the joint owner once you die and you don’t need a will to make that happen. If you have other property and you die without a will, that property may be claimed by your spouse if he or she is living; if no spouse is living, then your children and their children may have a claim to your property. If you do not have a spouse or children, then that property can be claimed first by either or both of your parents if they are living and, if not, by your siblings and their children. Should I Have A Power Of Attorney? A document called a Power of Attorney allows you to name a person (friend or relative) who you completely trust to handle your business if you are unable to do so

because of illness, physical disability or if you become incompetent. The person you name is called your Agent. You can give your Agent the authority to deal with your bank, to apply for benefits for you like Social Security and Medicaid, to pay your bills and to sell your property if necessary. If you have not named an Agent and you become incompetent, someone will have to file papers with the Court to ask to have a Guardian appointed for you. There will need to be a court hearing and this process can take time. What About Medical Decisions? In a Medical Power of Attorney, you can name an Agent (friend or relative) to make decisions about your medical treatment if you can’t make those decisions for yourself. The doctor who is treating you and another doctor familiar with your case are the ones to decide whether or not you are capable of making decisions for yourself. If you have not named an Agent and you are not able to make medical decisions for yourself, your doctors will look to your next of kin to make the decisions that are needed. | 1-888-201-2772

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