Avoid this single mom's nightmare after her ex-husband passed.
Probates are not fun. Rose's ex-husband passed without an estate plan (will or trust), so we had to open a Virginia probate. They have two kids, ages 15 and 9, and under Virginia law, they are the sole beneficiaries of his estate.
In the divorce, Rose gave a large amount of cash to her ex as part of the settlement. When he passed, she fully believed she would be able to use those funds to help raise the children.
Under Virginia law, without a will or trust, Rose could not use any funds or assets of her ex-husband's estate to support the health and education of their kids. The money must be held in trust for the kids until they turn 18. Once each child turns 18, they will have immediate access to those funds - with no limitations!
Additionally, Rose has an ongoing requirement to account for these funds with the court until the kids turn 18. For the next nine years, she will need to safeguard the funds, report to the court and then turn the funds over, all while trying to raise two kids as a single mom.
With a will or, even better, a trust, they could have ensured that the funds could be used to help raise the children, and limit access to the funds until a more responsible age.