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Revising Your Estate Plan After The Death Of An Heir

revising estate planning after heir dies

When an heir to an estate plan passes away, it is time to get in touch with an experienced estate planning lawyer to make the necessary changes to your plan.  

If you need legal help with any type of estate planning matters in Virginia, contact Buck, Toscano & Terezkerz. We work closely with individuals and families to craft a plan that fully addresses their needs and accomplishes their goals. Call our Charlottesville office today at (434) 977-7977 to schedule a consultation with one of her attorneys.

Estate Plan Amendments After the Death of an Heir

There are several areas of an estate plan that should be looked at when an heir passes away:

Last Will and Testament

If one of the heirs listed in your will dies before you do, it may not be entirely clear what would happen to their portion of your estate if you do not revise your will. This would depend on the terms and provisions in your will, how many heirs you have, and other factors.

For example, if you have two or more heirs and one of them dies, their portion of the estate would typically be divided among the surviving heirs unless there is language to the contrary. If you have a sole heir who passed away, then the court would generally treat the situation as if you had no will and distribute their inheritance based on Virginia intestate succession laws.

Whatever situation applies to you, it makes sense to review and revise your will to ensure that it is still in keeping with your final wishes. Here is a common example. Let’s say you have three children, your will divides your estate equally between them, and one of your children dies.

Do you want their portion to go to your other two children? Or do you want their share to go to their children (your grandchildren) or someone else? These and other important questions should be clarified when you revise your will after the death of an heir.


In addition to your will, you may have set up one or more trusts that are designed to distribute assets directly to beneficiaries without the need for probate. Just like with your will, you will probably want to amend the terms and conditions of your trust(s) to ensure that the correct beneficiaries will receive your property.

Powers of Attorney

There is a chance that your deceased heir is designated as your power of attorney for financial and/or healthcare decisions if you are no longer able to make these decisions yourself. It is quite common for aging parents to name one of their children as power of attorney, for example. If that child dies before you do, however, you’ll probably need to revise or rewrite this document to name another trusted individual for this position.

Life Insurance Beneficiaries

When an heir passes away, you will need to review and revise your life insurance policies and update the beneficiaries. Your heir may have been a sole beneficiary on the policy with secondary or contingent beneficiaries also listed, or they may have been a co-beneficiary along with one or more additional primary beneficiaries.

In either scenario, there are contingencies in place to account for the death of a beneficiary as long as you have named others in your policy. But you will still want to update the policy, so you have a new primary beneficiary (or group of co-beneficiaries) and a new secondary/contingent beneficiary to address a situation like this in the future.

Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Lawyers Today

Revising an estate plan often becomes necessary after a major life change, and the death of an heir is one of those situations in which some updates will likely be needed. For strong legal guidance with estate planning in Virginia, call Buck, Toscano & Terezkerz at (434) 977-7977 or send us an online message. We look forward to serving you!

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