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Helena Sue Mock

Helena Mock’s Answers

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  • My husband and I were recently married, and we each have houses, vehicles, and even a business in our own names.

    He says upon the event that one of us dies, our separate property automatically goes to the remaining spouse. Many people have told me otherwise. I say a will is imperative to make sure that happens. Am I right?

    Helena’s Answer

    The answer depends on whether either of you have children. Under the intestacy laws of most states, if a married person dies without a will, the deceased spouse's assets will pass to the surviving spouse unless the deceased spouse also had children who were not also children of the surviving spouse (i.e. from a prior marriage), in which case the assets are divided between the spouse and children. In Virginia, for example, the spouse would receive 1/3 of the estate and the children would receive 2/3. This is just one example of why it is usually better to have a will than to rely on the intestacy statute.

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