Virginia Probate: What to Do if You Are Left Out of a Will

Sometimes people are left out of their family's will. This can create distrust and animosity among family members. Sometimes people are accidentally left out of the will. Other times, the family member intentionally decided to disinherit them. 

Either way, a disinherited family member may still be entitled to some compensation from the depending on when the will was drafted and whether the action was intentional or unintentional.

So who is entitled to receive compensation even if they are left out of the will, and how much are they entitled to?

Children Born After the Will's Creation

The first category of individuals that may be left out of a will are omitted children. This category is dedicated to children who are born after the will is executed. If the will does not explicitly waive the interests of children born after the will is created, then those children are entitled to a share of the estate’s assets.

An omitted child may be entitled to two different types of compensation depending on how the will is written. If there are other children who receive assets under the will, then the omitted child will likely be entitled to at least the same amount of compensation as those other children. If no child receives compensation under the will, then they are entitled to an equal share of the assets depending on how much is left after other claims.

Marriages After the Will is Written

It is not uncommon for a person who drafted a will to either marry or remarry after their will is created. If they do not update their will to reflect their new marriage, then there may be some problems. A new spouse, or an "omitted spouse," is entitled to receive compensation from an estate even if their name does not appear in the will. An omitted spouse is entitled to receive the same amount of money as if there had been no will.

Spouses Intentionally Left Out of a Will

Even if a person does not remarry after creating a will, and intentionally leaves nothing to their spouse, the spouse is entitled to compensation from the estate. This is known as an “elective share.” An elective share may be either a third or a half of an estate, depending on whether there are any surviving children or omitted children.

Why You Need a Lawyer

If your relative left you out of their will, either intentionally or unintentionally, it is important to have a lawyer walk you through your rights and how to request compensation from an estate. There are many different calculations that come into play depending on the type of heir you are, and when the will was written. If you have been left out of a will, seek out legal counsel as soon as possible.