The 7 Different Types of Wills in Virginia

A will is a legal document that specifies who receives what when you pass away. Thus, it's important to know which kind of will is best for your circumstances.

Generally speaking, a will is a legal document that specifies who receives what on your behalf when you pass away.

Moreover, a will also give you a platform to recognize certain people in case of an emergency or circumstance that includes your absence.

The transfer of valuable property and money inheritance are among the key reasons why wills are so vital.

It’s important to note that creating a will doesn’t depend on old age and you can create one as early as the age of 18.

All legal wills must have a chosen executor to carry out your wishes as you list them.

Another good practice for all Virginia wills is that you sign them in front of two witnesses to ensure confirmation.

There are actually several types of wills, each of which performs a different task.

Below, we’ll list 7 of the most common types of wills used in Virginia.

1. “Simple” Wills

As mentioned previously, a simple will gives out instructions on how to distribute your property and assets to the people closest to you.

Though you can complete this yourself, its good to have a lawyer by your side to help you erase any possible mistakes that could cost you or your loved ones in the long run.

A simple will in Virginia tends to work best for those who don’t have an expansive estate and won’t require any complexities in the process.

Simple Virginia wills also detail who you would like to have guardianship of your children if you and the other parent pass away.

2. Handwritten Wills

Handwritten wills are pretty much exactly what they sound like.

Rather than being typed, handwritten wills are documents that are completely and entirely in your handwriting.

Though a few states don’t permit it, handwritten wills are indeed valid in Virginia.

Commonly referred to as “holographic” wills, handwritten wills often occur out of emergencies when one doesn’t have the time to formally go through the estate planning process with a lawyer.

For a holographic will to be valid in Virginia, at least two non-interested witnesses must prove that it is authentic.

3. “Living” Wills

Living wills are not “wills” in the traditional sense of the word, but are an important component of a Virginia estate plan.

A Virginia living will is vastly unique because it handles one’s health rather than property distribution.

Further, the document gives out directions on what steps to take if you’re physically unable to communicate to doctors.

For example, doctors will refer to your living will to see if life support is an option for you or not.

4. “Pour-Over” Wills

A Virginia pour-over will works with a living trust.

A living trust holds your property until your death and transfers these assets to designated beneficiaries.

For this reason, a Virginia Pour-Over Will essentially gives you the option of placing your property into that said living trust once you pass away instead.

This type of will often takes place if you leave out anything when you originally conduct your will.

5. “Ethical” Wills

An ethical will is different from a standard will because it has nothing to with property distribution.

Instead, it involves one detailing their core beliefs and values and passing it down to those closest to them.

For example, if you believe you will pass away before your grandchildren are alive, you can write to them through this effective method.

Ethical Virginia Wills occur in various communities and are essential to some family traditions.

6. Oral Wills

An oral will, also known as a nuncupative will, is conveyed orally, usually during a time of durresss.

While few resort to this option, this type of will is used in extreme situations that warrant such an action.

It’s important to note that only a few states accept this form.

In Virginia, one can only have an oral will if they’re a soldier in service dying on their deathbed.

7. Joint Wills

A joint will features two people, most times a couple in a marriage or two business partners.

In the document, the two testators agree to give their property to whomever dies first.

The document also gives instructions on how to distribute estate properties when the remaining testator passes away.

Another aspect of a Virginia Joint Will is that it prohibits the surviving testator from changing the original agreement.

While joint wills do exist, they are generally discouraged in practice.

Editor’s Note: Joint wills are generally no longer accepted in Virginia. This means that you should rewrite your joint will into two separate wills if you move to Virginia from another state.


It’s important to start the planning process as soon as possible so you have the time and means to build a strong estate.

Once you seek the counsel of a good lawyer, a great place to start is by creating your will.

Virginia wills not only help you plan out your future and make sure your wishes are fulfilled, they also prevent any confusion from taking place.

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