J. William Gray Jr.* & Katherine E. Ramsey**, Annual Survey of Virginia Law Wills, Trusts and Estates, 54 U. Rich. L. Rev. 183 (2019).

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The 2019 Virginia General Assembly did not enact any major new legislation, but it did pass several significant amendments. Among the most useful was an amendment to the Virginia Uniform Transfers to Minors Act which extended the maximum age for custodianships from twenty-one to twenty-five. The legislature also decided to cease imposing income taxes on estates and trusts whose sole connection to the Commonwealth is that they are being administered here. It responded to two recent court cases involving the required execution formalities for leases and the right to award attorneys’ fees in actions involving an agent’s breach of fiduciary duty under a power of attorney. Among other legislative actions, the General Assembly modernized the recordation tax exemption for certain deeds of distribution; dealt with issues affecting Virginia’s small estate, wrongful death, and property tax exemption statutes; made it easier for financial institutions to combat financial exploitation of the elderly; strengthened the enforcement of reporting requirements for guardians; and protected circuit court clerks who disclose probate tax return information to the commissioner of accounts or who destroy wills they have been holding for 100 years or more.

For its part, the Supreme Court of Virginia handed down six decisions addressing the presumption of undue influence, the attestation requirements and principles of construction applicable to wills, the legal effect of naming an estate or trust (rather than the fiduciary) as the sole party to a suit, the application of Virginia’s long-arm statute in an elder abuse case, and the legal requirements for execution of a lease with a term of five years or more.


* Senior Counsel, Whiteford Taylor Preston LLP, Richmond, Virginia. J.D., 1977, University of Virginia; B.S.I.E., B.A., 1973, Rutgers University.

**    Partner, Virginia Estate & Trust Law, PLC, Richmond, Virginia. J.D., 1998, University of Virginia; M.S., 1988, Boston University; B.A., 1986, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.